We have received this statement from Corporate Communications at the City Council.
The Oxfordshire Growth Board has announced that the Oxfordshire councils and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) have reached an agreement with the Government for an additional investment of £215 million over the next five years to build infrastructure, deliver new homes and boost economic productivity across the county.
For the City council the deal offers the potential to increase investment in building homes for affordable and social rent and in infrastructure to support our key development projects.
The funding will not only frame Oxfordshire’s development, it is set to have a direct effect on the way that planning, finance and other services in each of the county’s six councils will operate.
The Growth Board, working with the Homes and Communities Agency, the Highways Agency and other partners, will oversee the investment with the aim of cementing a partnership with the Government to deliver properly planned growth and economic development. It will also help Oxfordshire councils achieve the ambition of 100,000 new homes across the county over the period 2011-2031, as identified through the 2014 countywide Strategic Housing Market Assessment and Local Plans.
Oxfordshire’s knowledge-based economy
The Government recognises the importance of Oxfordshire’s knowledge-intensive economy, with its two universities and research institutions. It will work with OxLEP to develop a Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) to back Oxfordshire’s world-class science and innovation assets and grow new sectors. Support will also be provided to high-growth companies, to address skills needs and attract further investment and expansion of the Science Vale and Didcot Enterprise Zones.
The Government will provide Oxfordshire’s councils with £60 million for affordable housing and £150 million for infrastructure. Oxfordshire councils are already committing over £340 million for infrastructure and housing investment over the period. The Government will also provide £5 million in capacity funding to help take the programme forward. This will include a Joint Strategic Spatial Plan to provide a county-wide planning framework to guide growth.
Separate bids to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), to support the development of the Didcot Garden Town, and West Oxfordshire and North of Oxford Garden Villages, are still being considered by the Government with decisions expected in the new year.
Last week the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published its report on the Oxford-Cambridge arc. It advised on long-term funding for new transport infrastructure to harness the region’s economic potential, to benefit local people and boost UK plc post-Brexit.
The Growth Board will now work up a delivery plan with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Department for Communities and Local Government. Final agreement on the deal will be subject to agreement by all six councils and OxLEP.
The Government has committed to provide greater freedom and flexibility for Oxfordshire councils to help prevent speculative development. The HCA will help to ensure that land needed for development across the county is brought forward and will work with the councils on longer-term solutions to make sure sites are built out.
Growth Board members will continue to seek further Government funding and private investment alongside local authority funds to support infrastructure and housing development.