WORK has started on Oxford’s biggest housing development in a generation.

Hedgerows and trees were removed earlier this week along the southern boundary of the A40 to make way for a junction, which will provide access to the new Barton Park estate.

The development will see 885 homes, a 315-place primary school and a community hub built on the land west of the Barton estate.

In February Oxford City Council gave the Barton LLP – a partnership between Oxford City Council and developers Grosvenor – permission to begin work in spring.

And now greenery at the estate’s A40 junction, in Northway, is being cleared so that builders can access the site and start work next month.

A Barton LLP document that outlined the works said: “The removal works will take place with an ecologist present to monitor and advise on the ability to remove trees, given the potential for nesting birds at this time of year.

“Minimising the impact of all works on the site's ecology continues to be an integral part of this process.”

City council leader Bob Price said: “We are delighted that the project has started.

“Oxford’s desperate need for more housing will only be partially met at Barton Park but it will be a real asset to the city in both environmental and housing aspects.”

Oxford city councillor for Barton Van Coulter said: “It’s a development that has been debated for years, and while it will provide up to 885 new homes, that’s a fraction of what Oxford’s current residents need.

“Given the estimated assessment of 28,000 to 32,000 new homes required by 2030, and the length of time for the start of the Barton project, it just shows how quickly we must act to identify even more areas suitable for sustainable housing for Oxford’s needs.”

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 soon.

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

Housebuilder Hill, who specialise in environmentally-friendly homes, will deliver the first phase of properties on the 8.75-acre development site.

Hill will build 237 new homes, which will generate 20 per cent of their own energy, using renewable sources. A start date in May has not been confirmed.

Mr Coulter said: “It’s dependent on the weather because some earth works will be needed to make the site build ready, such as levelling off the terrain.

“The majority of Barton residents accept the need for housing. Some remain concerned about the impact of traffic, though I am assured 80 per cent of vehicles will use the new junction on to the A40.”