A DEAL to build one of the biggest housing estates Oxfordshire has even seen has been signed more than half a century after it was proposed.

Housing developers Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon this week agreed a contract with all 14 landowners at Grove's Second World War airfield.

It comes more than three years after Vale of White Horse District Council granted outline planning permission for 2,500 homes.

The developers still need to get planning permission for the fine details, such as building materials, so work is not likely to start this year.

But because the Vale has approved the estate in principal, councillors have said the agreement with landowners was the last hurdle to jump.

Vale leader Matt Barber said yesterday: "We have been chasing this for so many years, I am delighted it happened while I am in office.

"The expansion of Grove in the 1960s and 1970s gave thousands of families the opportunity to find a home of their own, in a good neighbourhood in the Vale.

"The airfield development will provide that opportunity to their children and grandchildren."

The 140-hectare airfield is now due to get a 64-hectare estate including 800 affordable homes, new secondary and primary schools, shops, playing fields and parks.

The negotiations which took so long were specifically around a so-called Section 106 agreement between the developers, district and county councils.

This agreement sets out the total amount the developers will pay towards new schools, roads and leisure facilities associated with the estate.

The reason the deal took so long was that one landowner was holding out for more cash, it was reported, which would have affected how much the developers felt was viable for them to contribute to infrastructure.

But Mr Barber said yesterday he did not think the total amount finally agreed this week had significantly changed from the £50m originally hoped for.

In terms of construction, Mr Barber said he believed the developers were 'ready to hit the ground running', but even so did not think work would start until next year.

He also said he believed the airfield would be the second biggest single housing development ever built in southern Oxfordshire after Didcot's 3,500-home Great Western Park, parts of which are still under construction.

Building homes on the airfield was first proposed as long ago as 1967, when it was reported in the Herald.

Oxfordshire county councillor for Wantage and Grove Jenny Hannaby said she had congratulated the Vale planning department for its role in helping get the S106 signed.

She said: "From my point of view this is an excellent result – I was wondering if I would ever see this happen in my lifetime.

"At long last we can start providing affordable housing and planning schools and roads."

However she also warned that it was crucial to see the fine details in the as-yet unpublished S106 agreement, which will reveal exactly how much is to go towards schools, roads, leisure facilities and possibly health facilities.