Oxford to spend £64m building affordable homes

Oxford council has pledged to spend £64m over the next four years to increase the availability of affordable housing in the city.

The local authority announced this week it plans to treble the amount of money it spends on new build through the council-owned Oxford Housing Company.

The council spent £17m over the past four years delivering a range of affordable homes through the council and will now spend £64m over the next four years.

According to the council, the company will build 530 affordable homes between now and 2022/23 and it is already planning the delivery of a further 500 affordable homes beyond that date.

Current and planned developments include Barton Park, Oxpens and Northern Gateway.

The council’s new local plan aims for a minimum of 2050 affordable homes to be built in the city between now and 2022/23, including 530 by the Oxford Housing Company.

The plan also proposes to help major employers by allowing staff housing schemes on land they own, with a reduced or zero element of social rent housing required.

According to a council statement, it would ‘prefer that such schemes prioritise homes for rent’ and ensure that ‘homes remain affordable in perpetuity’.

The local authority also has a 50% affordable homes policy for all new housing developments with more than 10 united, which it claims is ‘one of the more stretching targets’ in the UK.

The council’s board member for housing, Mike Rowley said it is time the governmentrecognises the urgent need for genuinely affordable housing for the salary levels that are typical of middle professionals in cities like Oxford’. ‘An average house price of £450,000 is simply out of reach for purchase by people typically earning £30-40,000 a year,’ said Mr Rowley.

‘The plans we are unveiling will help to address that. However, radical changes in land acquisition policies are essential along with the removal of the borrowing cap on local authorities.

‘Our city – our universities, hospitals, shops and manufacturers all have workers who need to be able to afford to settle down in the area. We’re doing what we can, and this is helped where our major institutions and biggest employers who also own housing land join us in finding shared solutions, including for their own staff.

‘We don’t have enough spare land in the city to build all the homes we need, so a big part of the solution is the cooperation of our neighbouring areas in supporting house building in their areas,’ he added,

‘Of the 30,000 new homes we know Oxford needs over the coming years, 8,000 of those can be built in the city, with the rest in neighbouring areas.’


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