A COUNCIL leader has hit back at criticism of a new garden village on the A40 that was awarded funding earlier this week.

The Government announced on Monday that it would support plans to build the 2,200-home village known as Oxfordshire Cotswold to the north of Eynsham, with a pot of £6m to be shared between it and 13 other confirmed garden villages.

Critics warned the plans would only put further strain on the A40, which runs from Witney to Oxford and is already gridlocked at peak times.

Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council. James Mills responded to the criticism by emphasising the investment in infrastructure the garden village scheme will offer.

He said: “Government backing for the garden village allows detailed planning to begin and the opportunity to access infrastructure funding programmes across government, such as the new £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund announced at this year’s autumn statement.

“The science business park proposed with the garden village will give local people an alternative to driving to work in Oxford.

“In addition, the nearby Hanborough railway station together with the planned park and ride facility to the north of Eynsham will give people an alternative to using their cars.”

Mr Mills said the project would offer much-needed homes in a high quality living environment.

He added: “I want to stress that this new village is a distinct settlement and should not be seen as an expansion of the existing village of Eynsham, or in any way dependent on it.

“However, we will be asking the neighbouring communities for their views and contributions on many aspects of the village development from naming it to commenting and influencing its design.”

Yesterday, the Oxford Mail reported that Witney Oxford Transport Group spokesman Maurizio Fantato, who said drivers had no other alternative but to use the A40 and that if infrastructure was not put in place first, the project would be a 'recipe for disaster'.

The Garden Village forms part of a total of 15,950 homes set to be built in west Oxfordshire by 2031, as part of its draft Local Plan.

Of those, 2,750 make up the district’s contribution to Oxford’s unmet housing need. A further 1,000 homes are proposed for land to the west of Eynsham in the plan.

The Government’s announcement follows the council making an ‘expression of interest’ to provide land for a Garden Village.

Oxfordshire Cotswold will become the third garden settlement in Oxfordshire, after Didcot and Bicester were awarded Garden Town status in the last two years.