COUNCIL chiefs in Oxfordshire have committed to building 100,000 homes in exchange for more than £215m in government cash.

In yesterday's Budget speech, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the deal which will see a major house-building project completed by 2031.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board, made up of the county's six local authorities, will receive money to be spent on major road and rail projects, as well as affordable homes.

But in doing so, controversial plans to build in areas near Kidlington and next to Grenoble Road south of Oxford are now far more likely to go ahead as part of the commitment to build the homes.

Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth said he was pleased the plans had been given backing from the Government and welcomed the cash injection.

He said: “It’s great news because one of the key things is you can’t have houses without having any infrastructure in place. Everyone agrees we need houses but the reason people don’t like them is the lack of infrastructure. We can actually have the right infrastructure.”

He added: “The 100,000 (homes) might seem a scary thing but if you look it’s basically what’s already in existing local plans – it’s just making sure that it’s delivered and accelerated in the right locations.”

As part of the deal, the Government will provide the Growth Board with £60m to fund affordable housing, along with £150m over five years for infrastructure improvements to link existing communities and to unlock new development sites.

To meet housing demand, the city and district councils have been developing Local Plans to assign where the houses can be built. Sites ear-marked for development include 4,400 homes in the Kidlington Gap, 3,500 homes along Grenoble Road and 2,200 homes homes near Eynsham. Houses being built at the Kingsmere Estate in Bicester and Great Western Park in Didcot are also included in the figure.

However, councils will still need to add a further 6,000 new homes across the county to get to the 100,000 total.

A Government report released earlier this year said the minimum amount of homes built in Oxfordshire was 70,000 but more could be built if the local authorities were being ambitious, which is why the larger figure has been selected.

Bob Price, the chairman of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and leader of Oxford City Council, said: “This agreement is the basis for the next phase in Oxfordshire’s development – supporting the rapid growth of our economy and addressing the severe housing shortage we are facing.

"We’ve got to bring together our Local Plans to map out where the 100,000 will go.

"Most of those have been already identified in Local Plans but there is a bit of a gap so will work on that.”

The councils will also be given a further £5m to boost the planning involved in the project. A Joint Strategic Spatial Plan will be developed in the coming months to ensure the councils' plans are cohesive.

Mr Hammond also backed the findings of the National Infrastructure Commission’s report into boosting growth in the Oxford to Cambridge arc, published last Friday.

It recommended one million homes are built along the corridor by 2050, along with major further infrastructure improvements.

The announcement is the result of six months’ work between the Growth Board and the Government.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid said: “We want to build a Britain that is fit for the future with the homes our country needs, so everyone can afford a place to call their own.

“That’s why we are investing up to £215m into Oxfordshire, to support an ambitious housing deal that will deliver 100,000 new homes in an area of high demand."

However, there have been some concerns at the plans and the impact they will have on Oxfordshire.

Vale of White Horse District Council leader Matthew Barber said he welcomed the money but said more is needed to help with all homes across the county.

He said the £150m earmarked for infrastructure would only be a fraction of the total needed.

Mr Barber: “I am very happy we have got a decision with Government but before this happens everyone needs to be clear that we need to get more Government funding.

“It’s good but it’s still not enough."

The leader of the Begbroke and Yarnton Green Belt campaign, which is opposed to Cherwell District Council’s plan to build 4,400 homes there, said he felt the outcome of the Budget was ‘mixed’ because Mr Hammond had pledged to prevent building on the Green Belt.

Giles Lewis said: “There is protection of the Green Belt offered by the Chancellor and we take heart from that.”

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