The Housing and Planning minister, Brandon Lewis MP today announced that Didcot is to become a Garden Town, which will help with the delivery of 15,000 houses and 20,000 high-tech jobs.
This good news comes just days after the chancellor announced that the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire are getting a second enterprise zone, which in itself will help the area attract significant government spending. It will also mean the district councils can retain business rates, all of which will lead to £120 million of funding towards roads and infrastructure around Didcot.
The announcements pave the way for funding for major infrastructure improvements like a northern perimeter road for Didcot, the Science Bridge over the railway line into Milton Park, and improvements to existing areas of Didcot.
The Garden Town will bring forward new mixed neighbourhoods of between 200 and 3,000 homes, which will have a strong focus on sustainability and green space and be linked through a series of green connections. The vision for the Garden Town is to create a place renowned for world class innovation, enterprise and vibrant communities, in harmony with an exceptional environment.
Housing growth and employment growth in the garden town will be intimately linked with 20,000 new high-tech jobs created over the next 15 years on the Harwell, Milton Park and Didcot Growth Accelerator Enterprise Zones and other smaller sites.
Significant investment in public transport infrastructure, for example four tracking of the railway line between Didcot and Oxford will enable more sustainable travel both across and to and from the garden town.
Cllr John Cotton, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Didcot is our main growth area in South Oxfordshire and we want to ensure that we do everything possible to support the quality of life for the people who will live there. By successfully applying for Garden Town status, we’re helping to support the new families moving to Didcot, but we’re also making sure the people already there continue to benefit from investment in the town.”
Didcot is amongst the first towns in the country to receive Garden Town status – others include Ebbsfleet and Bicester, which received the title of Garden Towns last year.
South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse District Councils worked in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership to put together a bid for Garden Town status.
Nigel Tipple, CEO of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said “The Garden Town is exactly the sort of initiative the LEP is looking for – only by properly resourcing housing and infrastructure, can we continue to attract the high end, knowledge economy jobs that Oxfordshire is famed for.”