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Vision for Oxfordshire shared at Glanville breakfast

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Guests at our 2019 Spring Breakfast heard Sue Halliwell, Director of Planning and Place at Oxfordshire County Council, talking about the challenges of spending £450,000 a day over the next 10 years to build the infrastructure necessary to support growth in the county.

Having secured the funding to deliver key strategic infrastructure, including a new crossing of the River Thames, Sue told the room that everyone needed to work closer together in order to ensure the sustainable development of Oxfordshire. Referring to the development of both housing and employment, and the infrastructure requirements to support it, Sue stressed the need to retain the identity of Oxfordshire whilst making it a successful area for economic growth.

She admitted that in order for developers to know where to build, it was necessary for them to know where the infrastructure to support this growth was planned to be and as yet this was still not fully agreed.

Sue is part of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, a joint committee of the six councils of Oxfordshire together with key strategic partners that has been set up specifically to facilitate and enable joint working on economic development, strategic planning and growth. As well as delivering the homes Oxfordshire needs, it will also provide the transport infrastructure, such as bridges, roundabouts and roads, across the region.

Although a number of smaller projects have already been started, many of the larger ones need feasibility studies completing before they can commence. The intention is to deliver 30 projects within 5 years.

In answers to questions from the well-informed audience, Sue said that her vision for the proposed Oxford-Cambridge Expressway that will help to relieve the capacity of the A34 around Oxford, is a green corridor and a cycle superhighway rather than a ‘slab of tarmac across the countryside’. She added that the project was a real challenge locally and that the actual route will not be known until Autumn 2020. She also welcomed the idea of a professional’s forum where interested parties from can meet regularly to inform, discuss and comment on the Growth Board’s projects in order to foster collaboration.

Over 100 guests from across all disciplines of the built environment enjoyed breakfast and networking at Milton Hill House, Didcot. In his welcome speech, Glanville Director, John Birch, said “It’s a challenging time for the construction sector. As much as we are all tired of hearing about Brexit, there’s no doubt that the uncertainty is having an effect on our industry, which is why events like this are so important in providing opportunities to engage with fellow professionals, to discuss opportunities and share best practice.”

The next Glanville breakfast will be held in the Autumn. To register your interest in attending, please contact Ewa Szuster at our Oxfordshire Office