Clegg: Build 50,000 new homes along east-west rail route

Up to five garden cities should be built along the new east-west rail route, according to the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick CleggLiberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg

The western section of the route, with services between Bedford and Oxford, is due to open in 2019 and will include stops at Bicester, Winslow, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

The Liberal Democrats want to expand ‘three to five of the towns along the route to enable approximately 50,000 new homes to be built on garden city principles’.

The also pledged to expand the route to Cambridge.

Speaking at the Lib Dem conference yesterday, Mr Clegg said: “Britain faces a housing crisis. Every day, 200 fewer families own their own home, as home owners die and more young families get stuck renting, unable to afford to buy.

“Housebuilding is stuck in the doldrums, with nowhere near enough homes being built to meet demand and keep prices affordable for those families desperate for a home of their own.

“Garden Cities are a vital cornerstone of our plan to boost house building to 300,000 homes a year – enough to meet demand and keep prices in reach – while still protecting our precious green space and preventing urban sprawl.

“Our plan is to build a series of high quality new towns and cities where people want to live, with green space, sustainable transport and spacious homes.

“The Conservatives have held back the development of Garden Cities on the scale necessary, but if Liberal Democrats are part of the next government, we will ensure at least ten get underway – with up to five along this new Garden Cities Railway, bringing new homes and jobs to the brain-belt of South East England.”

The party “will encourage the towns along the route to come forward with plans for this scale of development with clear benefits for existing residents, such as service improvement like ‘express stations’ with higher frequency rail services”.

Garden city principles ‘include high quality, sustainable development with accessible green space and gardens for all’.

The extended line could also reduce rail journey times between Oxford and Cambridge from 2.5 hours to roughly 60 minutes.