Agenda item

England's Economic Heartland - transport strategy consultation

For the committee to review the transport strategy consultation materials and consider their input to Cabinet and planning policy officers, for inclusion into the Councils submission into the consultation.

Consultation documents are located here:


Andrew Lane from Planning Policy gave an introduction to the consultation of the draft transport strategy.

England’s Economic Heartland is a partnership of local transport authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

The consultation covers the Draft Transport Strategy, the Integrated Sustainability Appraisal, and the Proposal to Establish a Statutory Sub-national Transport Body. The end date for the consultation is 6 October 2020.

The website (link provided in the agenda) is very helpful and the final strategy is planned for the beginning of 2021.

Cabinet member sign off is the expected process for the response from the council.

The strategy’s draft vision is “to realise sustainable growth opportunities and improve quality of life and wellbeing for Heartland residents and businesses, by harnessing the region’s globally renowned centres of innovation to unlock a world class, de-carbonised transport system”.

Draft key principles are:

  • The strategy touches on the impact of Covid-19 and how we can do things differently in the future.
  • Achieving net zero carbon emissions from transport by 2050.
  • Accessibility and inclusivity – improve quality of life to all.
  • Support the regional economy by connecting people and businesses to markets and opportunities.
  • Ensuring the Heartland works for the UK by enabling the efficient movement of people and goods.

The consultation is asking for comment on the vision, key principles, having a step-change approach, 30 policies over 4 themes, and implementation and delivery pipelines supported by the Integrated Sustainability Appraisal.

There is no specific mention of the Ox-Cam Expressway. Policy 12 mentions the ARC with travel from Oxford to Milton Keynes is mentioned as a strategic issue to resolve.


The proposal to establish a Statutory Sub-national Transport Body – views are sought on whether to become statutory (currently operates as non-statutory). This would give more powers to create policy and be consulted on rail franchises, road infrastructure strategy and procuring bus services.


The chair welcomed comments and questions and spilt the discussion into two parts. First, to comment on the strategy:

  • Seems very high level – not much to object to.
  • Welcomed the recognition of home working
  • East -West Rail - not hard enough on that. Need to consider that franchises are no longer.
  • Integration of bus and rail – need more on this. E.g Tyneside integrated metro and buses was popular.
  • OCC are developing LTP5 – Local Transport Plan – need to integrate this strategy with County plans
  • Ox-Cam ARC and EEH – how will these two bodies work together – want more on this. Not clear on this.
  • The strategy would benefit from clarity on the relationship with planning at the district level.
  • Councillor Gascoigne asked why parking lorries was flagged – Officer added that freight is an important element of movement and economy in the region. Councillor Johnston added that the British Road Federation is putting on pressure to provide more lorry parks.
  • Chair mentioned that pages 22-23 lists areas, and some local areas/towns are not listed – Abingdon, Wantage, Faringdon – can these be listed in a category, so that no area appears to be missed out.
  • Rural connectivity – needs to be given more importance. Neighbouring villages to market towns – there aren’t easy active transport links to Didcot transport hub – people have to use their cars – Councillor Gascoigne asked for more emphasis on this in the strategy.
  • Chair mentioned the strategy’s carbon neutral targets for transport. This council has targets that are sooner than 2050, and midway points should be added to the strategy targets. We’d be happy to bring the target date forward in line with our local targets.
  • Make life easier to travel on public transport – one ticket. This will encourage the public.


Item 2 is for the proposal to have a statutory body.

  • List of powers seem reasonable – powers brought locally.
  • Governance structure is not overly clear. Democratic accountability is going to be important and needs to be maintained throughout.


The chair listed the areas the committee thought the council should respond on:

  • Electrify East-West Rail as far as possible. Councillor Johnston is happy to provide details.
  • Integrate rail and bus is important – as is connectivity with villages/rural communities and transport hubs.
  • Clarity on the Ox-Cam Arc and how this will work with this body. There needs to be coordination with local planning. More guidance needed in the strategy on what planning powers local districts have. What are the links between district planning authorities and the statutory body?
  • List all market towns to show they are considered in the strategy.
  • Support the sub-national body becoming statutory as long as democratic accountability and an appropriate governance structure is in place.


The committee voted in favour of these recommendations to feed into the consultation response of the council, which is expected to be signed off by the relevant Cabinet members.