Didcot Garden Town: Oxfordshire County Council secures £218m for major transport improvements

Transport improvements in and around Didcot will support the creation of new jobs and homes, thanks to a successful grant funding bid led by Oxfordshire County Council and supported by the district councils.

The funding will support the creation of new houses including affordable homes and will improve transport links including walking and cycling routes.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has announced in this year’s Spring Statement the positive outcome of the Housing Infrastructure Funding (HIF) bid for the Didcot Garden Town and the delivery of projects which include:

  • A4130 widening from A34 Milton Interchange towards Didcot
  • A new “Science Bridge” over the A4130, Great Western Railway Line and Milton Road into the former Didcot A Power Station site
  • A new Culham to Didcot river crossing between the A415 and A4130
  • A Clifton Hampden Bypass

The package of measures has previously been identified in Local Plans to deliver growth across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse districts and is linked with the Housing and Growth Deal which will help support the delivery of 100,000 new homes in Oxfordshire by 2031.

This funding announcement will mean that necessary infrastructure improvements are delivered in parallel with new homes and jobs ensuring the long-term economic success in this part of Oxfordshire.

All schemes include improved segregated walking and cycling routes which will give people real travel choice. The lack of suitable crossings over the railway line and river coupled with the success of the Science Vale area has resulted in heavy congestion.  The same constraints have resulted in limited alternatives to the private car.

HIF will enable direct and convenient access between new and existing homes and key employment sites in and around Didcot. Oxfordshire County Council will continue to work with its partners and stakeholders to deliver the highway improvements to support growth across the area.

Working together to help residents and the local economy

Minister of State for Housing, Kit Malthouse MP, said: “This £218 million investment from the Government is big backing for a big project, improving local transport links to unlock new homes for the good people of Oxfordshire for decades to come.

“It’s all part of how the Government is firing on all cylinders to help deliver up to one million new homes across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc by 2050, helping a new generation to realise the dream of home ownership.”

Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council said: “This is excellent news and shows the government recognises the importance of this area locally and nationally and the strength of our proposals to enable and sustain expected growth. It’s a much-needed boost and part of our wider plans for Oxfordshire so that communities, residents and businesses can thrive”.

Cllr Jane Murphy, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, described the announcement as “a significant moment for everybody living and working in Didcot and surrounding villages.  I’m delighted that we’ve been a part of this successful bid to bring much-needed infrastructure to our district – this award demonstrates that by working closely with government, delivering on growth, and building positive working relationships with other councils, we can deliver much needed improvements for our residents.”

Cllr Roger Cox, Leader of Vale of White Horse District council added: “This is great news for the local economy – by working together with our colleagues in the councils across Oxfordshire, we have helped to secure the infrastructure investment we needed to ensure that the Science Vale area continues to thrive, offering lots of high quality jobs and career opportunities for our residents.”

Homes England Deputy Chief Executive, Tom Walker said: “This is great news for Didcot and for Oxfordshire – the £218 million of Housing Infrastructure funding will secure the important infrastructure needed to support the delivery of thousands of new homes across Oxfordshire and help the local economy to grow. Homes England will continue to work alongside the local councils and the Oxfordshire Growth Board to help make these homes happen”

The garden town team have been working with the advisory board on prioritising the more than 60 individual projects listed in the delivery plan and will now take into account this new funding to support the new homes and jobs set to be created.

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.”