THE first brick of Oxford's biggest housing development for a generation will be laid in July.

More than six years on since the idea of Barton Park was contemplated, the first housebuilders will begin digging the foundations for the first 237 homes to be occupied by residents in summer 2017.

With the A40 junction and main entrance to the estate almost complete, housebuilders Hill Ltd are set to move on site before the end of the month and build the first phase of three to five bedroom houses and several blocks of flats - 95 of which will be affordable.

The entire project - the city's biggest since Greater Leys was completed in the 1980s - will create a total 885 homes, a 315-place primary school, managed by the Cheney Academy Trust, and a shopping circle on land west of Barton.

Barton community association secretary Sue Holden said she was "delighted" that the estate would begin to take place.

The 67-year-old grandmother added: "It's been a long hard road and there has been plenty of blood, sweat and a few tears to get us where we are now.

"I'm looking forward to seeing these houses be built and I know there has been issues, but at least after five or six years of sitting around tables and discussing things, we will finally see the results.

"They are going to be state-of-the-art homes and I'll be really pleased to see the new residents move in."

The Barton LLP - a partnership between Oxford City Council and the site developers Grosvenor - is to decide on the housebuilder for the next phase of homes in the coming weeks.

Senior development manger for Hill Ltd, Jamie Wilding, said the project was on track.

He added: "We will be inspecting the infrastructure work done and then buy the site and start in July hopefully.

"The infrastructure contractors still have about a year left on their programme, but with the A40 junction completed it means we can start."

Materials used for the homes will be influenced by styles of homes throughout Oxford, including Walton Street, Jericho and buildings such The Queen’s College.

City councillor for Barton Van Coulter: "From agreeing the concept to laying the first bricks, it has taken six years.

"We're now at the point at which much needed homes start to rise and, of those new homes, the city council continues to include plans for the delivery of truly affordable tenancies, despite the disgraceful measures within the Housing and Planning Act - which came into law last week.

"Oxford needs more council led projects of the kind we're delivering in Barton, if we're to provide housing for all."

The plans show four-storey, one and two-bedroom apartments along the A40, and at the entrance to the main street, which has been named Barton Fields Road.

Along the main road in the estate, there is a mixture of three and four-bedroom homes planned and there will be two-bedroom homes in one section known as Gladstone Gardens.

Barton Park has been split into three house-building phases and is likely to be completed by 2025.