Unanimous support has been given for a £500m funding bid to improve roads and other transport infrastructure across Oxfordshire including £152m for the north of the county.
The Oxfordshire Growth Board backed Oxfordshire County Council’s application to the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund for three major schemes yesterday (Thursday, September 28).
If successful, £152m would be used to deliver improvements to the A44 and A4260, as well as a new park and ride, to support 5,570 homes in Woodstock, Begbroke/Yarnton and the Northern Gateway.
Cherwell District Council leader Cllr Barry Wood said: “If we are to be successful as a district we will need to attract businesses that provide jobs and homes for local people, and in order to do it is essential that firstly we invest in the infrastructure to support this growth.
“By improving the connectivity, roads and transport links we can effectively accommodate the planned growth for the area and the demand that this success will bring.
“The growth of the district incorporates more than just housing; it is the economy, employment and skills sector that will all be significantly enhanced by substantial investment in this transport corridor.”
The Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy, commissioned by the board, was used to identify infrastructure priorities that offered the prospect of a step-change in housing provision in a defined area.
As well as the £152m for north Oxfordshire, £171m would go towards improving roads around Didcot and £134.5m would be used on the A40 around Witney.
The government will consider Oxfordshire’s bids along with those from other areas and the highest ranking schemes will go through to a second stage in spring 2018, with final funding awards announced from summer 2018.
The bids complement other work by the board to secure investment in transport, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure needed to support the predicted growth in population.
This includes discussions with the National Infrastructure Commission over the proposed ‘Oxford to Cambridge growth corridor’.
It also involves linked discussions with government – supported by both Oxford universities – over a ‘housing and growth package’ for Oxfordshire to help unlock the benefits of the county’s strong and growing knowledge-intensive economy.
Board chairman and Oxford City Council leader Cllr Bob Price said: “Oxfordshire’s knowledge economy is of both national and global significance and critical to the long term economic success of UK plc.
“We are now seeking investment support to tackle the constraints on our continued economic success from a lack of capacity on the strategic and local transport networks, lack of choice and high costs of housing, high demand for employment space and the barriers high growth businesses face in scaling up.”
County council leader Cllr Ian Hudspeth said: “We believe all three bids are robust, deliverable and have a good chance of success.
“The funding they seek would lead to significant improvement in infrastructure to support expected growth in jobs and much needed new housing in a planned way.”
Cllr James Mills, leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Building homes is a major priority in West Oxfordshire to meet growing demand and ensure our economy is allowed to reach its full potential in future.
“The A40 needs to be fit for purpose to support the needs of our residents and enable development to flourish.
“That is why the success of this bid is so important.”
The board comprises the six councils: Cherwell, Oxford City, Oxfordshire County, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire, together with and the county’s Local Enterprise Partnership.