Oxfordshire CC £218m fund sees a boost for road improvements
A Contract for millions of pounds of funding to help roads in Didcot cope with new housing has been signed, but worries about a housing plan were aired as it was agreed.
As Oxfordshire County Council discussed signing a contract for £218million for new infrastructure around the planned Didcot garden village on Tuesday, October 15, Robin Bennett, a green councillor and cabinet member from South Oxfordshire District Council spoke to give his support to the project.
Mr Bennett addressed the district council’s intention to scrap its local plan, a decision taken out of its hands by the minister for housing, communities and local government, Robert Jenrick, 24 hours before its meeting on Thursday, October 10.
Mr Bennett said: “Officers from our council have worked closely with OCC officers to explore alternatives that would enable infrastructure funded by HIF to proceed regardless of what happens with South Oxfordshire’s emerging local plan.”
He added: “Reading your officer recommendation today, it appears to me that it is entirely in the secretary of state’s gift whether this project now proceeds, and from his correspondence to us, it seems that he strongly wishes it to do so.”
The district had sought assurance earlier this year, that if it withdrew its local plan then it would not affect the HIF bid.
OCC cabinet members criticised the district council’s intent to scrap the plan.
Lorraine Lindsay-Gale said it had implications for the whole county.
There was also criticism as SODC’s intent to scrap the plan would scupper new cycle routes and walking paths.
The cabinet also heard from Emily Smith, who spoke on behalf of Vale of White Horse district council to support the HIF agreement.
OCC’s cabinet agreed to sign the contract, and council chiefs will now finalise the details of the plan with the government agency for housing, Homes England.
Four projects in Didcot are set to be funded by a £234million budget, with the majority coming from the £218million fund, and the rest from developers.
They include a new Didcot Science Bridge from the A4130 over the Great Western railway line into the Didcot ‘A’ Power Station site; widening the A4130 from Milton Interchange to the new Science Bridge by making it a dual carriageway; a new river crossing and link road between the A4130 at Didcot and A415 Culham; and a Clifton Hampden Bypass from the A415 at Culham Science Centre and B4015 north of Clifton Hampden.