More than a year and a half on since the first diggers began to carve up the land off the A40 for Barton Park, Oxford Mail reporter Michael Race visited the site to see how work is progressing

The plans for Oxford's biggest housing development in a generation are beginning to come to life 18 months on since the first piece of turf was dug up for Barton Park.

The development, off the A40 Northern bypass and west of the Barton estate, will see 885 homes, a 315-place primary school and a shopping square to be built over the best part of a decade.

Since the first access road was built in May 2015, contractor CA Blackwell has been making its way from the A40 junction of the 93-acre site to the existing Barton estate.

It is hoped 100 homes we will be built each year.

So far, the development's Linear Park, commercial square and main road – named Barton Fields Road – are taking shape as housebuilders Hill Ltd begin building the foundations for the first 237 homes, cropping up from the edge of the A40.

Clare Harrison, senior project manager for Grosvenor, who are building the new estate in partnership with Oxford City Council, said she was pleased with how the works were going.

She said: "We aim for 100 homes a year. We are really pleased with how things have been going. It's fantastic to get Hill on site and away.

"We have got some really good designs on the table. The quality so far will hopefully set the standard for the rest of the development.

"The Linear Park is beginning to take shape and that is going to be a lovely place. There is also an area which will be a meadow in the summer so people can go and have picnics.

"This is a unique project and the partnership with the city council has worked really successfully."

Ms Harrison said the Linear Park, which will run the entire length of the development, would help link the new estate with the existing Barton community.

The park includes lakes and oak, lime and birch trees, as well as a play area.

All the houses along the Linear Park, which will be made up of waterfront 'villas' and some terraced houses, have been designed with front and back gardens. Apartments near the park will have green roofs.

Since July last year, earthworks experts CA Blackwell have been installing a vast drainage system, levelling the land, constructing the main roads and streets, as well as building the housing plots for the new development.

Housebuilders Hill have started to build the foundations of the first 237 homes and it is hoped the first residents will move into properties from next December.

The landscape for the commercial square at the heart of the development has also started to take shape, with paving slabs being laid and shrubs planted.

Ms Harrison said the next stage of the development would see the earthworks continue into the new year, with the apartment blocks and houses nearest the entrance to the estate begin to take shape.

She added the next stage of planning would be the appointment of a contractor to build the second phase of houses, so-called Commercial Square, and the school, before building the nearest homes to Barton.

She said: Our objective is to build the houses as quickly as possible. There is a huge demand for this development."

City councillor for Barton Mike Rowley said he was pleased to see the work going to plan.

He said he was continuing to press for a Post Office to be built.

Rob Hall, deputy managing director at Hill Ltd said the foundations of the first apartment blocks would be completed by mid-January.

He added: "Critical infrastructure, such as the road and drainage, have progressed well and we are looking to complete the first section of roads in early next year.

"Over the upcoming months the team on site will be hard at work as the first bricks are laid on a four storey apartment block.

"We are very excited to see this development progress and the positive impact it will have on helping tackle the housing need in Oxford when they launch in the summer next year."

House prices are expected to be released next year.