PEOPLE in Didcot have been urged to have their say on a £620m vision for the future of the town and surrounding areas that includes a new railway station and a water park.

The Didcot Garden Town masterplan, which was made public on Monday, aims to provide new infrastructure and get the 'best deal' for the area, with 16,000 new homes planned in coming years.

Mayor of Didcot Jackie Billington said a consultation on the plans, which is now open, was a prime opportunity for residents to shape their town.

She said: "I hope many residents will participate as it is the town where we all live or work, so it affects us all in way or another.

"I like the idea of the water park – Didcot has hundreds of families, and how good would it be to have this right on our doorstep? " I just wish it was around here when my children were growing up."

South Oxfordshire District Council leader John Cotton said the 'ambitious plans' are deliverable and he hopes a state of the art leisure centre will be a focal attraction for Didcot.

But a note of caution was sounded by Didcot town councillor Des Healy, who said residents will need to see improvement to roads and leisure facilities in the next few years in order to be on board with the masterplan.

He added: "Some of the things they are talking of are to happen in the next 15 to 20 years.

"But we need to see change happen soon, otherwise people will just see this as a way of pushing through masses of housing onto Didcot."

Planning permission has already been granted for 10,000 of the 16,000 proposed homes and the town was awarded garden town status by the government in December 2015.

Garden towns are meant to provide affordable homes, schools and jobs while preserving the surrounding countryside.

Mr Cotton said: "It would be great if we could have a water park, which people from across the county could come to.

"We want new roads, a new River Thames crossing to join up the town more, this is a long term vision for the town, not everything will happen overnight."

"When it comes to developers it is always the case that the houses get put up first and everyone is left waiting for the roads and the schools and leisure facilities.

"Now we are making sure Didcot gets the infrastructure and the facilities it deserves, we want to make it a destination for people to come to."

A breakdown of the investment shows that £256.2m is proposed for transport infrastructure, £52.2m on sustainable travel and energy and £60.8m on town centre upgrades and leisure facilities.

A further £224m will go on key residential and commercial development projects, £18.5m for community engagement and business support and about £10m on various additional costs.

Mr Cotton added: "This is a really exciting time for Didcot, we are planning to ensure that by 2031 each home will be within 300 metres of green space the size of two football pitches.

"We also want to build a heat network which will allow us to supply homes with energy at next to little or no cost."

Residents breathed a sigh of relief earlier this year after their campaign to save their beloved Ladygrove Park from being potentially turned into a technology campus was successful and is no longer a part of the masterplan.

Mr Cotton believes that the only controversial aspect of the project could be the pedestrianisation of Cow Lane.

He added: "I can understand why residents might be sceptical because it would add time to their journeys.

"But we are making other improvements to the road, which will mean they will be hardly affected by having to go another route."

Although a majority of the plans will not be realised for the next 20 years or more, such as moving Didcot Parkway station to a new site at Rich's Siding's site, there are some which are just around the corner.

Mr Cotton added: "I think one of the schemes that can be delivered within the next five years will of course be the second phase of the Orchard Shopping Centre.

"Others are the redevelopment of the Gateway site opposite the train station and also major improvements to the town's road infrastructure."

The consultation on the plans will run until Monday, July 31, and the final blueprint will be published in the autumn.

The plans, which went online Monday, are available to view on both South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council websites.