Oxfordshire Growth Board backs infrastructure funding bid to support garden towns and villages

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has provided unanimous support for an application to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF).

The application is part of a package of investment to deliver the transport infrastructure necessary to allow the development of new garden towns and villages across the county.

The funding bid for up to £500 million was submitted by the county’s transport authority Oxfordshire County Council on Thursday 28 September. Money is sought to bring forward infrastructure investment to pump-prime three major development schemes:

  1. Didcot Garden Town – £171m is bid 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.
  2. West Oxfordshire Garden Village – £135.4m is bid 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.
  3. North of Oxford – £152m is bid for the development of Rapid Transit lines on upgraded A44 and A4260 corridors, a new Park & Ride, and strategic cycle infrastructure plus. Support is also sought for additional education requirements (as yet un-costed). This.would support the delivery of 5,570 homes in Woodstock, Begbroke/Yarnton and the Northern Gateway.

The bids submitted to the £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund are ranked as above according the Government’s scoring method, with the guidance that the strongest bid be put first.

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.

The Government will consider Oxfordshire’s bids along with those from other areas and the highest ranking schemes will go through to a second stage in Spring 2018, with final funding awards announced from Summer 2018.

The HIF funding bids complement other work being conducted by the Growth Board to secure investment in transport, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure needed to support the predicted growth in population, and meet the future needs of Oxfordshire families, their children and grandchildren in terms of jobs and homes across the county to 2040 and beyond. This includes discussions with the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) over the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Growth Corridor. It also involves linked discussions with Government – supported by both Oxford Universities – over a Housing and Growth Package for Oxfordshire to help unlock the benefits of the county’s strong and growing knowledge-intensive economy.

Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council and current Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, said: “Oxfordshire’s knowledge economy is of both national and global significance and critical to the long term economic success of UK plc. We are now seeking investment support to tackle the constraints on our continued economic success from a lack of capacity on the strategic and local transport networks, lack of choice and high costs of housing, high demand for employment space and the barriers high growth businesses face in scaling up.”

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, which submitted the HIF bids, said: “We believe all three bids are robust, deliverable and have a good chance of success. The funding they seek would lead to significant improvement in infrastructure to support expected growth in jobs and much needed new housing in a planned way.”

Councillor John Cotton, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said “Significant improvement in the local roads and other transport networks are a must if we are to cope with the housing growth Oxfordshire needs. This has always been at the heart of what we believe Didcot Garden Town can achieve. The bid for nearly £250m for the town is a strong one.  I am certain that it will secure the investment needed to give the local economy a boost and to improve the quality of life in our area for generations to come.”

Councillor James Mills, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Building homes is a major priority in West Oxfordshire to meet growing demand and ensure our economy is allowed to reach its full potential in future. The A40 needs to be fit for purpose to support the needs of our residents and enable development to flourish. That is why the success of this bid is so important.”

Councillor Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “If we are to be successful as a district we will need to attract businesses that provide jobs and homes for local people, and in order to do it is essential that firstly we invest in the infrastructure to support this growth. By improving the connectivity, roads and transport links we can effectively accommodate the planned growth for the area and the demand that this success will bring. The growth of the district incorporates more than just housing; it is the economy, employment and skills sector that will all be significantly enhanced by substantial investment in this transport corridor.”

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).