Didcot gets ‘Garden Town’ status

Didcot is to become a Government priority alongside becoming a new ‘Garden Town’, the housing minister announced today.

The town’s new title means developments including a £35 million bridge in Didcot over the railway line and £12m northern perimeter road link could be fast-tracked.

Government housing minister Brandon Lewis MP visited residents at Great Western Park this morning before touring sites around the town earmarked for investment.

He said: “What this status means for the town is that it will get government assurances in terms of developments, making it easier for the funding of projects in this area.

“Currently, there are 400 homes being built a year in Didcot and that’s a strong, steady intake, but we are determined to build more houses and the local councils here are very much pushing the Government on bringing in these houses and the developments this town needs.”

About 15,000 houses are already allocated for Didcot in South Oxfordshire District Council’s local plan until 2031, but the new status is expected to help fund infrastructure to support the homes.

It is also to deliver 20,000 high tech jobs at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Milton Park and in Didcot’s new ‘Enterprise Zones’, announced by Government on November 25.

Ian Hudspeth, Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) leader, said: “This status means that the town is a priority when it comes to getting Government investment.

“I understand it’s not just about building houses, but about developing a community and I feel that with the current infrastructure Didcot has, this will only go on to improve that for its residents.”

However, Cllr Hudspeth could not give a timescale for when these projects would get underway.

Didcot is among the first towns in the county to receive garden town status. Bicester was given the title last year.

The bid for garden town status came from South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse district councils working with OCC and Oxfordshire LEP.

SODC leader John Cotton also announced the councils are working together on a £1bn deal of investment in transport projects in the next 20 years across Oxfordshire.

This would see a major revamp of the Didcot Parkway railway station.

He said: “These plans are all about driving for growth so we can bring in the investment needed for this area. Residents need to feel like they are living somewhere special and this will help.

“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 live here.”

Matthew Barber, VOWHDC leader said: “This will encourage jobs, better transport links, improved facilities and infrastructure for everyone.”

The £35m bridge earmarked in Vale of White Horse District Council’s local plan would go from the power station site north of the A4130 to Great Western Park housing estate which is being built south of the road.

Plans for a bypass from the A4130 at Hadden Hill near Hadden Hill Golf Club to link up with the A4130 at Ladygrove were revealed last month.