ALMOST £1.5m has been given to Bicester under the Garden City programme to build 13,000 homes and create 21,500 jobs.
The £1.47m will fund a study into the infrastructure that will form the basis of Cherwell District Council’s bid for £100m in total from the Government. It will form the first steps towards becoming a Garden Town, which will see the homes built using “green principles”, and look at areas such as a new motorway junction south of junction 9, transport links and green spaces.
District council leader Barry Wood said: “This grant and the awarding of Garden Town status does not change the plans we had for Bicester, it simply gives us the funds and capacity to deliver them sooner.
“It will enable us to ensure the jobs, infrastructure and transport provisions are delivered alongside the homes to ensure the current and future residents of Bicester are supported in all aspects of their lives.”
The local authority wants to spend £40m on roads and £50m on parks and public amenities. To be awarded Garden City status, Cherwell had to “demonstrate ambition for growth” and be able to “provide affordable homes, school and jobs while preserving countryside”.
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Of the 13,000 homes, the first 10,000 have been earmarked for sites outlined in the council’s Local Plan, which lays out planning policies in the area, and is awaiting final approval from planning inspectors. This includes 3,293 homes at North West Bicester’s eco-town, 2,100 homes at Graven Hill, 2,468 in South West Bicester, 1,500 in South East Bicester and 300 at Gavray Drive by 2031.
Phase one of the eco-town started in 2013. A total of 91 homes are under construction as well as an energy centre that will provide hot water and heating for about 1,000 homes.
Managing director of lead developer A2Dominion Steve Hornblow said: “It is a real milestone for the scheme. It is great to have got to this point.”
It is hoped residents will move in during the autumn.
Construction on the 187-hectare self-build Graven Hill site, three miles from junction 9 of the M40, is planned for later this year once plots go on sale. The first 10 homes will be part of a six-part documentary My Grand Design with TV presenter Kevin McCloud.
The remaining 3,000 homes do not come under the Local Plan timeframe, which is up to 2031, and could see further brownfield sites earmarked for development.
Mr Wood said: “With so many large-scale developments happening around Bicester, we want to ensure that they complement each other and the town’s existing residents.”
Banbury MP Victoria Prentiss said: “This is very welcome money. I look forward to helping ensure Bicester can blossom into a Garden Town.”