A 'GARDEN village' of 2,200 homes outside Oxford could be the trade-off for a £54m upgrade of the A40.

Council chiefs say a development north of Eynsham would boost the case for the long-awaited extension of the dual carriageway from Witney to the village to ease daily congestion.

The development – which would be built between 2018 and 2031 – has been suggested to provide desperately-needed homes for people working in Oxford.

District council cabinet member for planning Warwick Robinson stressed the village proposal was at a very early stage but claimed it could bring "huge benefits".

He said: "We think this is the logical choice and this could be a self-sustaining settlement that would be separate from Eynsham.

"It is only by building settlements of this size that you can generate the funding to improve infrastructure like the A40,

"Nowhere is ideal for a development of this size, but to site it somewhere like Carterton would not realistically meet Oxford's need."

West Oxfordshire District Council yesterday said it had submitted the 32-page bid to the Government, with Oxford City Council confirming its support.

The Government has said so-called garden settlements would be designed to encourage eco-friendly modes of transport like walking and cycling and include large green spaces.

WODC's bid was also backed by transport officials at Oxfordshire County Council, who have made a separate bid for A40 cash.

Mr Robinson said the impact of the new village on the A40 would be reduced by plans for a new park and ride there, as well as a bus lane between Eynsham and Oxford, set to be built by 2020.

There would also be a shuttle bus for residents to the nearby Hanborough Rail Station, Mr Robinson added.

Bob Price, leader of Oxford City Council, said: "We would certainly welcome this proposal and the contribution it could make to addressing the city's housing need, because it would have good links with the planned Northern Gateway business park and the hospitals, as well as Kidlington.

"Using somewhere close to Oxford and on a main road is clearly better than destroying rural areas instead.

"It would be bad planning to go ahead without improvements to the A40, because it is a key artery for Oxford, but this scheme could help the economy quite substantially."

County council leader Ian Hudspeth said the garden village could allow bosses to "tap into another funding stream" from the Government, following the successes of garden town investment at Bicester and Didcot.

His comments came as the council and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership made a bid for the £54m required to create a dual carriageway on the A40 between Witney and Eynsham.

The scheme would also allow bus lanes to be build in both directions between Oxford and Eynsham. At the moment only an eastbound lane is funded.

But the homes proposal sparked concerns about the impact of further car traffic on the A40, as well as fears it would ruin the rural character of Eynsham.

Eynsham county councillor Charles Matthew described the idea as "absolutely batty" but said the district council was in "a difficult situation".

He added: "This is simply going to make problems on the A40 even worse. It will add to existing pressures on what is already a bottleneck.

"There is already housing planned at Carterton and Witney, which will also have people who will drive to Oxford, in addition to the people who are going to be driving from this development to the city.

"It is a difficult situation, because clearly we need more housing, but to me the risk of increasing the problems of the A40 and destroying the rural character of Eynsham overcome the merits."

West Oxfordshire District Council's proposal came after its last draft Local Plan – which sets out where development can take place – was thrown out by a planning inspector last year for not providing a high enough number of homes.

This requirement includes homes for Oxford, which has said it cannot meet its housing need within its own boundaries. The district council has a "duty to cooperate" with it.

Other authorities are also looking at how they can help Oxford with demand. South Oxfordshire District Council has proposed 3,500 homes at Chalgrove Airfield, although this has been criticised due to its remoteness from the city.