Government grant set to speed up house building

Oxford Mail: Bernard Stone: “There is a huge housing need in Wallingford. Bernard Stone: “There is a huge housing need in Wallingford.

HOUSE building in Wallingford could be speeded up thanks to £525,000 of Government money.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District councils have been given a combined £1.025m to increase housing growth by 30 per cent in 2013 and 2014.

And if they succeed, they will be given the same amount the year after to do the same thing.

South Oxfordshire District Council agreed that 550 homes should be built at Slade End Farm off Wantage Road, Wallingford, two years ago.

But a planning application has yet to be submitted.

Wallingford mayor Bernard Stone said: “There is a huge housing need in Wallingford.

“Talking to local employers, there are a number of people around here who have to travel to work because of the lack of housing.

“I would welcome any positive move to speed up housing growth.”

The district councils will spend the money on employing new staff and consultants, seeking specialist advice and marketing the Science Vale area to prospective housing developers.

But Mr Stone questioned how the money would force developers to build homes any quicker at sites whether they had already effectively been given permission.

He said: “They are going to want to build at such a pace to maximise the value of the properties as they come to the market.

“Developers are quite clever in that sense.”

He said he believed that the St Edwards planning group which has been working with SODC on the Slade End Farm proposal had indicated it might begin building in two years time at a rate of 70 homes a year.

He said he was expecting the planning application to be submitted shortly.

South Oxfordshire district councillor for Wallingford South Mark Gray agreed with Mr Stone.

He said he would welcome the scheme “if it makes the developers get on and start building, because they are good at getting planning permission and then sitting on that permission.”

He said: “They get permission then go looking for other sites.”

The pledge of £2.05m funding comes from the Government’s Large Sites Programme Capacity Fund.

The entire 2013/ 2014 grant must be spent or committed to projects by 31 March 2014.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils will agree on how to spend the funding at a cabinet meeting at SODC offices in Crowmarsh Gifford tonight.


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