PLANS for Oxford’s largest housing estate in a generation cleared a major hurdle last night.

At a meeting at the Town Hall, Oxford City Council approved designs for the streets, parking, drainage and other infrastructure needed at the Barton Park estate before nearly 900 houses can be built.

City council leader Bob Price said: “We can start to look forward confidently to our first homeowners moving in next year, and the new facilities for Barton beginning to appear on the ground.

“We’re planning to build a garden suburb with high environmental standards and excellent houses to buy and to rent.”

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Last night’s decision will allow Barton Oxford LLP – a partnership of the city council and developer Grosvenor – to start the first building works at the site, west of Barton, due to commence in the spring.

Grosvenor senior development manager Alex Robinson added: “We expect to start our first phase of enabling works in late spring.”

Designs for the first of the planned 885 homes, 40 per cent of which will be council-owned, are currently being developed and are expected to be put forward at about the same time.

They will be followed by more detailed plans for a primary school, community centre and sports facilities.

During the meeting, councillors on the east area planning committee – which approved the overall scheme in September 2013 – said housing in Oxford was “desperately needed” and welcomed the beginning of work on the site.

Deputy chairman councillor Van Coulter said he still had concerns about parking, but added: “This will start to tackle the issues with housing in the city and it is good to get it under way.”

Proposals approved by the committee included the design of the main street through the development and parking arrangements.

There were concerns about the number of parking spaces outside the proposed primary school, but council officer Fiona Bartholomew said three quarters of children were expected to walk to school.

She said: “The school is central to the neighbourhood and will be within very short walking distance of most homes.”

Councillor Ruthi Brandt also questioned why there were no cycle lanes on the main street.

Ms Bartholomew said the roads would all have 20mph limits and be a “shared space” for cars, bikes and other vehicles, including buses.

This was the same reason, she added, why the council had decided not to change parking arrangements near the school, which Oxford Bus Company had criticised.

The firm said cars would have to reverse outwards, delaying buses. But after the meeting, Ms Bartholomew told the Oxford Mail: “We think the impact on buses will be bearable.”

Marston city councillor Mick Haynes said residents in Marston were “very worried” about their drainage system, which he said was already antiquated. He said a new pumping station for the area should be included in estate plans.

Ms Bartholomew responded that the estate’s sewerage system had been designed with Thames Water and would not impact on neighbouring areas.

She said: “This development does not solve Marston’s issues, but it will not make them worse.”

Committee chairman Roy Darke added Thames Water was conducting a review of Oxford’s sewerage network.

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