In recent weeks, it has been extremely encouraging to learn that central government has given the green light to the funding of two key projects in the south of the county.
With funding to the tune of £6.2million secured for the Northern Perimeter Road project in Didcot – alongside £9.4million allocated to the development of the Lodge Hill junction in north Abingdon – the county’s dynamic growth, and the need to develop an infrastructure to match, continues to be recognised.
Undoubtedly, these announcements confirm that Oxfordshire continues to play a major role in driving forward the UK economy – but both investments will primarily bring major benefits to the south of our county.
The Northern Perimeter Road investment will be pivotal to the success of Didcot Garden Town, relieve pressure on key transport networks – in particular, the A34 – as well as boosting economic growth across Milton Park (already home to around 9,000 workers) the Harwell Campus and slightly further afield, Culham Science Centre.
Securing investment for Lodge Hill means vital infrastructure is in place, ahead of future housing development in Abingdon.
Of course – for some – major infrastructure announcements can be greeted with nervousness. Having an economic climate that embraces dynamic growth is important, but so is the need for it to be underpinned by an equally-strong infrastructure.
In Oxfordshire, a total of 45,000 new jobs have been created over the past five years. As new jobs are being generated within the county, Oxfordshire will undoubtedly attract more people – therefore, growth and infrastructure development need to work hand-in-hand.
The creation of garden towns with associated infrastructure, not just in Didcot, but also in Bicester and the Cotswold Garden Village – delivering a total of 31,500 new homes – is a positive sign of Oxfordshire striking the right balance.
Working alongside a variety of partners, we will continue champion Oxfordshire’s economic potential but also ensure that we do so in a responsible and sensitive manner.
Nigel Tipple (Chief Executive)