Chancellor George Osborne visited the site of the planned Ebbsfleet Garden City to see construction finally in progress on 15,000 new homes. 

He defended the decision to cut the number of houses planned for the Ebbsfleet Valley after proposals in 2012 would have seen 20,000 homes constructed.

That was cut by 5,000 when the scheme to build four linked villages, along with business, retail and leisure space, was announced in March's budget, along with £200 million of government investment.

Visiting the site yesterday the Chancellor said: "The first thing is we want to get the homes built.

"It doesn’t matter how many plans you have and how many promises have been made to the people of Ebbsfleet but not enough has happened.

"By having this new garden city, by having the development corporation and by having central government involved we are determined to actually build these homes and create these jobs."

Mr Osborne took matters into his own hands as he was snapped laying a brick at one of the first homes to be built on the site by developers Land Securities.

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Construction has finally started in one corner of the site, with Ebbsfleet Academy in the background. 

The Chancellor said he would consider extending Crossrail from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet amid fears not enough infrastructure will be built to cope with population growth in the area.

But he would not be drawn on which lower Thames crossing option the government would go for, saying an announcement would be made "shortly".

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson added: "I would argue there is nowhere else in the country where we have as much potential as this area.

"We have Bluewater expanding, the potential for a theme park at Swanscombe and the Garden City.

"We are seeing now a real sea change in this area and providing we can keep local people involved in the decision making processes and providing we get the infrastructure right I believe this will be successful."

Mr Johnson also welcomed suggestions for a transport link between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations, saying such infrastructure questions would need to be addressed "as the Garden City evolves".