A £15m relief road plan to ease traffic congestion in Wantage from the effect of 5,000 new homes has been given up to £3.8m in Government funding.

The Wantage Eastern Relief Road (WERL) would surround the 1,500-home Crab Hill estate north of Charlton Heights.

The road, running from the A338 Mably Road to the A417 towards Didcot, will take rush- hour traffic from the town centre and estate roads.

The Department for Transport said it will give “up to £3.8m” to Oxfordshire County Council for the project. The council plans to open the road by March 2017.

Cabinet member for transport David Nimmo Smith said that Wantage would remain “open for business” during the work.

He said: “The money which comes from the Department for Transport is a significant proportion of the amount we need.”

The estate has yet to get approval from Vale of White Horse District Council.

The development would include a neighbourhood centre, a primary school, a central park, allotments and sports pitches.

District council leader Matthew Barber said he was “reasonably confident” all cash could be found but it is not yet “in the bank”.

Wantage and Grove county councillor and Liberal Democrat group deputy leader Jenny Hannaby said funding was vital.

She said: “If these houses are allowed to be built without this road, in 20 years’ time we will be in a disastrous mess.”