THE county’s rural character will ‘absolutely’ be kept despite plans that could see hundreds of thousands of new homes built here, the Government’s housing secretary said.

At least 100,000 new homes are expected to be built in Oxfordshire by the mid-2030s with possibly hundreds of thousands more by 2050.

The Government has said the homes are critical to ensure the county meets its full economic potential.

On a trip to Abingdon, James Brokenshire said: “I think the character of Oxfordshire will absolutely be retained.

Oxford Mail:

“Of course, we know there are real pressures in terms of our housing need, people not being able to afford to get a home; that sense of a place you call you home being a too distant vision that is just out of reach.”

The Government and Oxfordshire councils agreed the £215m Housing and Growth Deal in March 2018, which provides money to help with the building of the 100,000 new homes.

Most of those have been included in councils’ Local Plans, which outline future development.

The Government has said it wants one million new homes to be built between Oxford and Cambridge by 2050 – but it remains unclear where those additional homes will go.

Mr Brokenshire added: “I think we can [build homes] in a way that is sympathetic to the existing built and natural environment.

"We’ve seen this in other parts of the country.”

The secretary of state for housing, communities and local government met James Fredrickson, the Conservatives’ prospective parliamentary candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, on his visit to Oxfordshire.

Detractors to future development have complained they have never been given an opportunity to oppose it and that pockets of the rural county will be changed forever.

But Mr Brokenshire added: “This is not simply a numbers game; this is about creating communities and places that we can be proud of.”

Bids for hundreds of millions of pounds of Government money have been submitted by councils. Up to £234m might go to the Didcot Garden Town project.

The cabinet minister and Mr Fredrickson were joined on a tour of Abingdon by the deputy leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, Ed Blagrove, and Alice Badcock, the council’s cabinet member for community services.

The Conservatives held Oxford West and Abingdon until June 2017, when it was won by Lib Dem MP, Layla Moran.