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Oxford City Council Takes Steps to Tackle Housing Crisis

homeless

OX Place has submitted a planning application to build 32 new homes in Iffley on a development that will be 100% affordable.

The plan for development

Oxford City Council’s housing company intends to build the new homes in a mix of houses and maisonettes on land at Meadow Lane that was earmarked for development in the Local Plan 2036.

OX Place produced an initial masterplan for the development in October 2021 and this has now been amended following two rounds of public consultation.

While half the development was originally envisaged as homes for market sale, all will now be affordable. There will be 19 council homes let at social rent and 13 homes sold for shared ownership.

In Oxford, social rent is typically around 40% of an equivalent private rent. Shared ownership helps people get onto the property ladder by buying a share in a home they couldn’t afford to buy outright.

The revamped scheme now includes smaller building footprints and homes of less than three storeys. This provides better opportunities for landscaping – including communal gardens – and means no adverse impact on views from existing homes.

The Local Plan requirements

In line with Local Plan requirements Meadow Lane will be highly energy efficient, going beyond current building regulations.

This will be achieved by enhanced building fabric and air tightness standards and the use of air source heat pumps. The new homes will be electrically heated, meaning that they will become zero carbon when the electricity grid decarbonises.

Meadow Lane will promote sustainable travel through 83 secure cycle spaces, an electric car club and EV charging capacity in each of its 17 car parking spaces.

The Memorial Field to the south of the site is not included in the Local Plan and there are no plans to develop it. OX Place’s intention is to retain the trees and wild grass, while there is the potential for a connection from the new development through the Memorial Field towards Church Way and Oriel Meadow.

If planning permission is granted, OX Place and its development partner Hill aim to begin construction in summer next year.

A street in Oxford

Thoughts by leaders

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, cabinet member for planning and housing delivery, said: “People said that the original plans didn’t do enough to help tackle our city’s housing crisis and OX Place has listened. If planning permission is granted, Meadow Lane will now be 100% affordable – providing 19 council homes for social rent and 13 homes for shared ownership.”

“As I’m a cabinet member I can’t be involved in decisions on OX Place planning applications and I hope Meadow Lane will be approved in due course. Oxford needs affordable, low carbon homes and OX Place is best placed to deliver these.”

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, cabinet member for planning and housing delivery

OX Place managing director, Helen Horne, said: “We’ve acted on feedback from public consultation in October and December and now we’re taking our revised plans from the drawing board and a step closer to reality. While there’s a lot of work still to do, I’m hoping for a green light from planners and am looking forward to starting construction on our latest scheme as soon as possible.”

Final Thought

With the current cost-of-living crisis, housing has become one of the main domains where vulnerable populations have not received adequate support. With such steps taken by Oxford city council, solutions in the formed of shared ownership and affordable housing can be appreciated as efficient and timely ways of tackling the present socioeconomic crisis. Going forward, what needs to be monitored is consistent efforts on part of the council to deliver on its promised local plans.

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