Bicester is to receive a multi-million pound award to fund the delivery of 13,000 homes, 21,500 jobs and a new motorway junction after being awarded Garden Town status by the Government.
Earlier this year the Department for Communities and Local Government announced it would offer financial support for local authorities who met the criteria of Garden Town status by providing affordable homes, schools and jobs while preserving the countryside.
Following the submission of an expression of interest Cherwell District Council was yesterday (Monday) informed it had been successful and would receive the multi-million pound award to fund the delivery of the homes, business and open space as outlined in its submitted Local Plan.
Cllr Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the announcement that Bicester has received Garden Town status as it reflects how hard we have worked to find a sensitive balance between the expansion of the town and the quality of the development that takes place. It is important to stress that the 13,000 homes have always been planned for Bicester as part of our Local Plan and the funding we receive will enable us to fulfil our vision and provide the necessary infrastructure and transport improvements to improve Bicester as a place for people to live, work and visit.
“Cherwell has always been proud to lead the way nationally in housing delivery, through innovative concepts such as sustainable living at north west Bicester and the UK’s largest self-build scheme at Graven Hill. The award of Garden Town status shows how initiatives such as these continue to be recognised by the Government and continue to keep Cherwell at the forefront of sustainable growth.”
The 13,000 homes will be delivered in two phases. The first phase will be in line with the Local Plan, which outlined the delivery of 10,000 new homes at the north west Bicester eco town, Graven Hill and south west Bicester between 2014 and 2031. The remaining 3,000 homes will then be built after the end of the Local Plan timeframe from 2031 onwards. However if new brownfield sites are identified in the future then this could result in the delivery of additional homes.
New schools, infrastructure and 21,500 jobs will be created alongside the homes, as will improved transport links. This will include faster rail times on journeys travelling to Oxford and Milton Keynes through the East West Rail project and the creation of a new motorway junction, south of junction nine near Arncott, which will ease pressure of existing junctions.
In achieving Garden Town status Cherwell had to demonstrate a genuine ambition for growth which would bring together homes, jobs, infrastructure and green spaces to create “the advantages of the most energetic and town life with all of the beauty and delight of the country secured in perfect combination”, as envisioned 100 years ago by Garden City architect Ebenezer Howard.