The government’s £215million package towards housing, infrastructure and productivity in Oxfordshire ‘doesn’t go far enough’, according to a district council leader who wants more investment to support homes.
Matthew Barber, leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, believes the £150m earmarked for infrastructure would only be a fraction of the total needed to support more homes across the county.
Speaking after the budget announcement last week, Mr Barber said: “While I welcome the investment from the government, I think we all recognise it doesn’t really go far enough.
“£150m of infrastructure spending in Oxfordshire spread over five years is pretty small sums of money compared with the level of housing we’re looking to deliver.
“Oxfordshire councils have jointly come up with a plan for infrastructure and we think we need more than £7bn of funding to bridge that gap. What this will deliver is less than two per cent of that.”
The Vale is already planning to build 22,000 houses by 2031 but, according to the authority’s leader, has “no plans for increasing housing numbers unless we receive commitments to fixing infrastructure”.
Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran criticised how the 100,000 homes by 2031 target “is not matched by enough funding for the infrastructure to go with it”.
Oxford East representative Anneliese Dodds told the BBC she also felt the money “was not as much as I would have liked”.
Oxfordshire grew 30 per cent between 2009 and 2015 – the fastest growing area in the country in cash terms.
Chancellor Phillip Hammond used last week’s budget to announce the £215m package over the next five years to build homes and infrastructure in Oxfordshire.
It includes a commitment to the East West rail route between Oxford and Cambridge with the first trains running in 2023 and money to speed up housebuilding across the county.
Bob Price, leader of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and Oxford City Council, said: “We have huge problems of affordable housing and congestion and what these funds are doing is tackling these in a very effective way.”
However, Oxfordshire was already gearing up for 100,000 houses as part of district councils’ Local Plans, so last week’s announcement is not more homes than previously expected.
According to Caroline Green, the city council’s assistant chief executive, somewhere between 95 and 98.5 per cent of homes have been located, with a maximum of 5,000 homes yet to be situated.