FUNDING to redevelop Oxpens and for A34 improvements will be announced today as part of a £118.4m package to deliver thousands of jobs and new homes across the county.

The regeneration of the 20-acre Oxpens site, stretching from the railway station to the Westgate Centre, is viewed as an opportunity to transform the run-down quarter of the city.

And news that Oxpens is to be included in the new growth deal package should allow work to begin within 18 months.

Money is also being made available for additional slip roads at the Lodge Hill A34 junction, opening it to southbound traffic, to clear the way for 600 new homes in North Abingdon.

At Oxpens there are plans to build at least 300 homes along with offices, a hotel and leisure facilities to support more than1,000 jobs.

The government is expected to allocate £3m for preliminary works to bring the site into use, including drainage works and land preparation.

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The city council hopes to now form a joint development agreement with a private sector developer.

Conservative Party chairman and Minister without Portfolio, Grant Shapps, will visit the Oxpens site today before announcing that Oxfordshire’s growth deal is to be expanded by an additional £10m.

In July the government agreed to a £108.5m growth deal package for Oxfordshire, which included £26m towards Oxford’s flood relief channel.

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said: “The announcement is very important for the regeneration plans that are being implemented by the city and county councils for the whole of the Rail Station, Frideswide Square and Oxpens area, linking up with the redeveloped Westgate quarter.

“The new funding should allow work to begin on the site in the course of the next 12 to 18 months.”

The development of Oxpens has been complicated by the fact there were up to eight separate landowners.

But Mr Price said the large area of the site owned by the city council was being “consolidated”

with the large South Yard site owned by the London and Continental Railways Ltd (LCR ), owned by the Department of Transport.

Cabinet Office spokesman Bob Honey said: “Improvements to the Lodge Hill junction, and other A34 improvements, will relieve significant congestion and so allow future housing developments.”

The government say that £20m of discounted borrowing will be made available to Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, which has been behind the bids.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “More money is being announced today for key projects to boost the local economy. Because the money will be in the control of a partnership of local community, business and civic leaders it will go on things that matter.”

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