Growth Board and Housing Minister in signing ceremony for £215 million Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal

The Government’s Housing Minister joined representatives of the Oxfordshire Growth Board in Upper Heyford in Cherwell District today (22 March) at a signing ceremony for the £215 million Oxfordshire Growth Deal.

Dominic Raab MP was joined by Councillors Bob Price (Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board), James Mills (Leader, West Oxfordshire District Council), John Cotton (Leader, South Oxfordshire District Council), Susan Brown (Leader, Oxford City Council), Lynn Pratt (Lead Member for Estates and the Economy, Cherwell District Council) and Yvonne Constance OBE (Cabinet Member for Environment, Oxfordshire County Council), as well as Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Vitoria Prentis MP for North Oxfordshire  at the event held in the Upper Heyford Heritage Centre at the site of the former air base, which now forms the Heyford Park housing  development.

Over a quarter of the new funding, £60 million, will support affordable housing across the county to deliver more than 1,300 affordable homes – at least half of which will be for social rent – helping  first time buyers and local people looking to get a foot on the housing ladder.

As well as delivering the homes Oxfordshire greatly needs, the funding will provide £150 million for much needed transport infrastructure, such as bridges, roundabouts and roads, across the region,

Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Dominic Raab MP, said:

“Our priority is to work with councils to build the right homes in the right places that work for everyone.

“I am delighted to be here in Oxfordshire today to see firsthand how our new funding will help deliver  100,000 homes for the county, not only helping address Oxfordshire’s housing challenges bur also providing the kind of transport infrastructure such as roads, bridges and roundabouts, which new homes need.

“We’re clear the housing market must work for all, which is why we have dedicated over a quarter of the £215 million funding directly to affordable housing so working  families can get the  support they need.”

Councillor Bob Price, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, said:

“Today’s meeting with the Minister for Housing at Upper Heyford signals the start of a period of major investment in housing and new communities across the county.

“The cost and availability of housing has been one of the two most serious constraints on the economic development of Oxfordshire, and the results of the close collaboration between our six councils and the government since last summer will finally give us the resources to tackle the problem.

“We very much welcome the Minister’s commitment to support our aspirations for sustainable growth and will continue to work with him and his officials to deliver the much needed new housing.”

The deal also includes £5 million of funding to boost capacity within Oxfordshire’s six local authorities, including additional resources to develop a Joint Statutory Spatial Plan, that will set the strategic direction for planning across the county to 2050.

The Growth Board will continue to work closely with Government to implement the Deal.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board comprises the county’s six councils – Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council, together with representatives of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP), which includes the two universities.

Growth Board welcomes further government announcement on investment for Oxfordshire

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has welcomed the Government’s confirmation that two of the county’s bids to the Housing and Infrastructure Fund (HIF) are progressing through to co-development.

Detailed business plans will now be developed for the £300 million of transport infrastructure investment that will help bring forward the Didcot Garden Town and West Oxfordshire Garden Village, near Eynsham.

If agreed, the investment would substantially improve the county’s transport infrastructure, including a new river crossing at Culham and an upgrade of the A40. The improved infrastructure would enable the development of new living and employment areas using sustainable design principles, including improved cycling provision.

Oxfordshire County Council, the county’s transport authority, submitted the funding applications last September as part of a package of infrastructure investment needed to allow the development of new garden towns and villages across the county.

The announcement comes on top of the recently agreed £215 million Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal, which will fund transport improvements and more affordable housing.

Didcot Garden Town – £171m is sought for transport improvements including a Didcot Science Bridge and A4130 dual carriageway, a new river crossing at Culham and Clifton Hampden Bypass. This would support the delivery of over 22,000 homes in Didcot, Culham, Harwell and Berinsfield.  Additionally up to £70m of cycle and other sustainable transport improvements are proposed for inclusion in the bid plan.

West Oxfordshire Garden Village – £135m is sought for further upgrades to the A40, building on existing schemes and based on the approved A40 Long Term Strategy including development of the Rapid Transit network and additional highway capacity on A40 transport corridor. This would support the delivery of over 10,000 homes in Witney & Carterton, and around Eynsham.

Final funding awards for the bids will be determined by Government following the agreement of detailed business plans on the delivery of the new infrastructure. The Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy, commissioned by the Growth Board, was used to identify infrastructure priorities that offered the prospect of a step-change in housing provision in a defined area.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, which submitted the HIF bids, said:

“The government is showing it is rightly confident that Oxfordshire can deliver new homes and jobs while sticking to the principles of sustainable development. This is a big boost for Oxfordshire and underlines our commitment to ensuring that the infrastructure is in place to support new homes.”

Councillor Bob Price, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, said:

“I’m pleased to see the Government is looking to make good its commitment that the Housing and Growth Deal should be seen as a downpayment on future investment in the county. Our ability to attract funding is testament to the national importance of Oxfordshire’s knowledge-based economy  and the result of strong collaboration and partnership working by Growth Board partners.”

Councillor John Cotton, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said:

“We’re delighted to see continued commitment to supporting South Oxfordshire housing growth from the government.  I am serious – and so is the Growth Board – about ensuring the county’s residents get the infrastructure they need to maintain and improve the quality of life in the Oxfordshire as a whole, and this news is a great example of how we’re going about doing that.”

Councillor James Mills, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said:

“West Oxfordshire’s proposed garden village near Eynsham would be a major contribution towards meeting our current housing demands as it would provide much-needed homes in a high quality and sustainable environment. It is boosting our case for improvements to transport links and in particular the urgent need to upgrade the A40. I am delighted that we are now closer to gaining  Government investment through the Housing Infrastructure Fund; it is positive news for the District and is additional support for the A40 long term strategy.”

The North of Oxford bid for infrastructure to support the delivery of 5,570 homes in Woodstock, Begbroke/Yarnton and the Northern Gateway, was not successful at this stage.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board comprises the six councils: Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council, together with and the county’s Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

Growth Board announces first round of projects to receive Housing & Growth Deal funding

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has published details of the first round of infrastructure projects to receive funding in year one of the five year Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal, signed last month.

The Deal will deliver £215m over a five year-period to fund infrastructure and affordable housing. It helps underpin Oxfordshire’s ambition to plan and support the delivery of up to 100,000 new homes across Oxfordshire between 2011 and 2031. This is the level of housing growth as identified by the Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2014, and is consistent with that planned for in existing and emerging Oxfordshire Local Plans.

Ten key projects from across the county will share around £12m worth of funding over the next year. The schemes include a feasibility study to provide a westbound bus lane linking Wolvercote to the proposed Eynsham Park and Ride site; improvements to key link roads in Carterton and Banbury; widening of the Botley Road rail bridge in Oxford and improvements to the Botley Road corridor; and upgrading Featherbed Lane, near Milton Hill to provide improved and safer access between the Didcot and Wantage areas.

In addition, the Growth Board has announced a further £20m of funding to be used in South Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse, Cherwell, West Oxfordshire and Oxford to support a range of other infrastructure projects. These projects are being finalised with developers and landowners before the details can be announced.

In total, around £30m will be spent on infrastructure in the first year (2018/19), with similar amounts in each of the following four years. The money will be used for detailed design work and to determine funding required from developers and other sources, or to kick start initiatives and pay for works. The new infrastructure will help support the delivery of new homes to address the county’s severe housing shortage and expected economic growth.

While the £150m infrastructure funding in the Deal does not meet the full infrastructure investment needed to support new housing in Oxfordshire, it will underpin the delivery of approximately 6,500 houses during the five year period of the Deal, and a total of up to 14,000 by 2031. It will also establish an infrastructure fund that will lever in additional investment.

All the projects receiving funding, whether announced today or still in negotiation, are included in district and city council Local Plans and in the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS), which sets outs the county’s infrastructure priorities.

The first £30m marks the start, with more projects under consideration for inclusion in the rest of the five-year programme which is now well under development.

Making today’s announcement, Councillor Bob Price, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board said:

“This is a significant moment for Oxfordshire. Just last month all the districts, the city council and the county council united to seal a deal with Government, and now we are delighted to announce this first year of funding to start delivering the infrastructure residents have been calling for as we continue to prosper and grow as a county.

“We hope the project funding being announced today is the start of further investment to follow in the coming months, as we await news of the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bids submitted last September for Didcot Garden Town, West Oxfordshire and North of Oxford; not to mention further opportunities through the Government’s Marginal Viability Fund where we had five successful bids from across Oxfordshire earlier this year.”