THE Government has given the go-ahead to plans for up to one million new homes being built between Oxford and Cambridge by 2050 to boost it as a ‘world-leading economic place’.

The plan was finally signed off in Government papers released after Chancellor Philip Hammond gave his annual Budget speech in the House of Commons today.

In the documents, the Government says it wants to emulate similar economic successes in the Ruhr Valley in Germany and Silicon Valley in the United States.

It says new towns and developments in the so-called Arc between the two university cities will be ‘well-designed, inclusive and vibrant’.

In other details, councils will be asked whether they want new compulsory purchase powers for new town development corporations. That could mean new developments are led by authorities, rather than central Government.

Campaigners have already warned of the dangers of building new homes in undeveloped areas.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England said last week that the land needed to build the one million homes could be bigger than the size of Birmingham.

Paul Miner, the group’s head of strategic plans and devolution, said it would ‘change the face of England’s countryside forever’, even though there has been no formal consultation about the growth.

Mr Hammond also today announced an extra £20m for the East West Rail link, which will relaunch a train line between Oxford and Cambridge.

The Varsity Line, which formerly linked the two university cities, closed in the 1960s.

The £20m announced in the budget will be spent on ‘exploring which routes best support the Government’s housing ambitions’ in the central section of the line. That runs from Bedfordshire into Cambridgeshire.

The one million homes target was first suggested by the Government-backed National Infrastructure Commission in a report last November.

That report also called for more progress on the reopening of the Cowley Branch Line in Oxford and the development of the controversial multi-billion pound Oxford-Cambridge Expressway which could be open by 2030.

Mr Hammond announced the money alongside other measures for local authorities, including £420m extra for pothole and bridge repairs, and another £400m for schools.

What does the budget mean for householders?

Austerity is 'coming to an end' but it is not yet over, the Chancellor said in his Budget.

Philip Hammond said 'discipline will remain' after nearly a decade of difficult spending and warned against a spending bonanza ahead or after Brexit.

Duty on fuel has been frozen for the ninth consecutive year.

While duty on beer and spirit will also stay the same, it will increase with inflation on wine. The price of tobacco will increase according to its inflation escalator.

A temporary cut to business rates will mean some small businesses pay a third less than they were expecting. Mr Hammond said that could mean savings of about £8,000 a year for some traders.

The cut is designed to help the high street fight against online retailers and will cost the Treasury more than £1bn.

Tech giants that have bases in the UK, including Twitter and Facebook, will be expected to pay a digital services tax within two years. How that will be paid is still yet to be calculated, Mr Hammond said.

The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that growth in the UK economy will reach 1.6 per cent next year. It says it expects it to hit 1.4 per cent in 2020 and 2021, 1.5 per cent in 2022 and 1.6 per cent in 2023.

Amongst other measures, the controversial rollout of Universal Credit will be boosted by £2.7bn and councils will receive another £650m to pay for adult social care.

Mr Hammond also vowed to never approve any private finance initiatives. Previously used by Governments to pay for public sector projects, some have racked up massive bills for the taxpayer over recent years.