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Inner orbital area study

The inner orbital area encompasses the strategic cross-regional routes around the southern outskirts of London.

It includes the M25 London Orbital motorway, which is the busiest and most congested highway corridor in the South East area. It also includes the roads that serve Heathrow Airport, the Medway Ports, and Thamesport.

There are marked variations in wealth and prosperity between the Inner Orbital corridors. Those that pass through north Surrey and Berkshire are among the most prosperous in the South East, whereas those in North Kent are among the most deprived. Housing affordability is also hugely variable across this area.

A map showing the inner orbital area


  • Economic imbalance – the east has higher deprivation but greater housing supply, the west is prosperous but faces supply challenges
  • Orbital rail connectivity/journey times is poor from Reading to Gatwick to Ashford, constraining the development and growth potential of the Gatwick Diamond and other major economic hubs
  • Severe congestion on the M25 Orbital Motorway and limited scope for additional highway capacity on this corridor
  • Sustainable surface access to Heathrow from the South East is limited


  • Rail connectivity enhancements east-west through Gatwick Airport
  • Possible missing links between the M3 and M4 motorway, to help alleviate congestion on the M25 and support local development
  • Opportunities for demand management
  • Potential for Western Rail Access to Heathrow, Southern Rail Access to Heathrow, and mass rapid transit solutions
  • The need (and associated challenges) to integrate with the proposed Lower Thames Crossing to support strategic connectivity

Working in partnership

Partnership working is at the heart of our approach, making sure we capture invaluable insight and experience from stakeholders across the South East as we develop our investment priorities.

This area study is being led by a working group comprising senior officers from local transport authorities , local enterprise partnerships and other key partners including Network Rail and National Highways and protected landscapes.

The working group is supported by a stakeholder forum. This brings together a wide range of groups and organisations including transport operators, active travel campaigners, universities, environmental groups, local planning authorities, business groups and many more. 

Inner orbital working group

Berkshire LEP
Bracknell Forest Council
Department for Transport
Enterprise M3 LEP
Gatwick Airport
Hampshire County Council
Kent County Council
National Highways
Network Rail
Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead
Reading Borough Council
Slough Borough Council
South Downs National Park Authority
Surrey County Council
West Berkshire Council
West Sussex County Council
Wokingham Borough Council

Inner orbital stakeholder forum

Arriva Buses
Ashford Borough Council
Atkins Global
Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council
Berkshire Local Transport Body (BLTB)
Bracknell Forest Council
Brighton & Hove Buses / Metrobus
Buses in Fleet (Bus user groups representative)
Campaign to Protect Rural England
Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
Coast to Capital LEP
Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
Confederation of Passenger Transport
Crawley Borough Council
Dartford Borough Council
Elmbridge Borough Council
England’s Economic Heartland
Enterprise M3 LEP
Epsom & Ewell Council
Eversholt Rail Ltd
Federation of Small Businesses
First Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire Ltd
Friends of the Earth
Gatwick Diamond Business Initiative
Govia Thameslink Railway
Gravesham Borough Council
Great Western Railway
Guildford Borough Council
Hart District Council
Heathrow Airport Limited
High Speed 1 Ltd
Homes England
Honda Motor Europe Ltd
Kent & Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP)
Logistics UK
London Borough of Bexley
London Thamesport
Maidstone Borough Council
Medway Council

Mole Valley Council
Motorcycle Action Group
North Wessex Downs AONB
Rail Delivery Group
Rail Freight Group
Reading Borough Council
Reading Buses
Reigate and Banstead Borough Council
Road Haulage Association
Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead
Runnymede Borough Council
Rushmoor Borough Council
Sevenoaks District Council
Slough Borough Council
South Downs Society
South East England Councils
South East LEP
South Western Railway
Southeastern Railway
Spelthorne Borough Council
Surrey Heath Borough Council
Sussex Community Rail Partnership
Tandridge District Council
Thames Estuary Growth Board
Thames Gateway Kent Partnership
Thames Gateway Tramlink Ltd
Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council
Transport Action Network
Transport East
Transport Focus
Transport for London
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
University of Kent
Waverley Borough Council
West Berkshire Council
Woking Borough Council
Wokingham Borough Council