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Didcot’s science park gets £42m boost for estate’s infrastructure
A GOVERNMENT agency will provide £42m to speed-up the development of a housing estate in Didcot.
The loan will be used to build schools, colleges and community centres to support people living at the Great Western Park estate which will eventually contain 3,300 homes.
The new development, where 700 homes have already been built, will provide homes for 16,000 new workers in jobs to be created at nearby Harwell and Milton Park.
The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) will loan the money to developer Taylor Wimpey, to provide infrastructure including roads which will enable the developer to attract more buyers to the site.
South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) leader Ann Ducker, who worked closely with Taylor Wimpey on the bid for government cash, said: “It has been behind schedule. Building isn’t moving as fast as we would like.”
She also said business leaders at Harwell and Milton Park said Didcot did not have enough of a higher standard of homes which senior staff would be attracted by.
She said: “We were told we haven’t got the right type of houses that people will want.
“There will be directors and seniors then you have got office staff, and some people say we are lacking director houses.
“Any money which can be spent to accelerate job creation is a good thing.”
The £42m loan is the biggest made so far as part of the HCA’s Local Infrastructure Fund, launched in 2012.
The money can only be spent on creating the infrastructure to attract buyers to the estate.
That will include a new district centre, three schools, a new university technical college and community and healthcare facilities.
It is also hoped the cash will increase the number of construction jobs on the site from around 400 to around 650.
Taylor Wimpey will be expected to pay the money back as it sells the new houses.
HCA spokesman Ben Lowndes said the decision to invest in Great Western Park was partly based on its proximity to Harwell and Milton Park.
He said: “The reason the government set up the Local Infrastructure Fund was because they recognise housing is key for economic growth.
“This will fund infrastructure which make the estate easier to develop.”
The contract for exactly how the money will be spent is expected to be signed in the next few weeks.
WHAT THE LOAN WILL FUND
The HCA loan will provide infrastructure to support 1,778 market and 808 affordable homes at Great Western Park. It will do this by providing:
- Utility provision and new and improved road links.
- Education facilities, sport pitches and pavilion and two new community centres
- Funding to support a university technical college.
- A new spine road through the site, to connect the A4130 to the B4493 Wantage Road, which will create two prominent entry points onto the existing scheme and open up more land for development on the opposite site of Wantage Road.
- Better road links to the A34 and Science Vale Oxford Enterprise Zone sites to support the district’s wider growth plans.
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