THOUSANDS of new homes at Didcot look set to be built to the west and south of the town.

A Hagbourne/Harwell bypass and a southern ring road have also been proposed to serve the major new developments.

South Oxfordshire District Council has given a clear indication of the areas set for development - but it insists exact locations have yet to be decided.

A study carried out by the district council, in conjunction with the Vale of White Horse District Council and Oxfordshire County Council, looked at nine potential areas for development around the town.

Between 3,000 and 4,500 new houses are proposed at Didcot within the draft South East Plan - the regional blueprint for development until 2026 - in addition to the 4,500 houses already in the pipeline at sites including Great Western Park and Ladygrove East.

District planners have concluded the best locations for the further growth would be on sites to the south, between Didcot and the Hagbournes, and to the west, between Didcot and Harwell.

A site to the north has also been included but it is believed this would only accommodate a small percentage of new homes due to flood-risk constraints.

The report warns against development to the east of the town as sites lie within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it would also require the re-siting of Hadden Hill Golf Course.

Council cabinet member John Cotton said all that had been decided so far was the split of housing between South Oxfordshire and the Vale - 50/50.

It means the site to the west of the town, within the Vale, would accommodate between 1,500 and 2,250 new homes, with the same number built to the south.

Mr Cotton said: "No decision has been taken over which sites to use. Our biggest priority is the Hagbourne/Harwell bypass. That bypass is the key piece of infrastructure before the further growth of Didcot."

Mr Cotton said the southern ring road, if built, would require some houses in East Hagbourne to be bulldozed and he would be writing this week to all homeowners potentially affected by the proposed road.

He added: "That road provides the opportunity for the barrier that the Hagbournes have been asking for."

West Hagbourne parish councillor Marion Judd said: "The report appears to give the green light to allocate most, if not all, of the 3,000 houses to land between Didcot and the Hagbournes.

"We would like to know what is regarded as the minimum separation to keep Didcot and the Hagbournes separate."

East Hagbourne parish councillor Roger Emery said it was the first step towards creating housing that would not be a credit to Didcot. He added: "The infrastructure deficit will be paid for by people already living in the area."

Didcot Town Council leader Margaret Davies said the proposed southern ring road would split East Hagbourne in two, damaging Mowbray Fields nature reserve, Didcot's Millennium Wood and threatening East Hagbourne recreation ground.

She said: "They are required to come up with a plan for sustainable development and none of this is sustainable."

South Oxfordshire's cabinet was set to ratify the latest "development split" proposal at a meeting last night.