Oxford City Council has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the action its housing company is taking to meet Oxford’s urgent need for new homes.
The #OxfordNeedsHomes campaign will highlight how Oxford City Housing Ltd (OCHL) will build nearly 1,900 new homes for sale and rent in and around Oxford over the next 10 years.
An Oxford Needs Homes page on the council website will allow people to track progress on current and future developments. The campaign will involve creating hoardings around new developments telling the 100-year story of council housing in Oxford. The council will also encourage people to use the #OxfordNeedsHomes hashtag to talk about their experience of growing up in council homes.
OCHL is currently building 144 homes on 12 sites around Oxford, with more than 50 of these expected to be completed over the summer. The housing company is preparing to submit planning applications for over 100 more homes during the same period.
Ten year plan
OCHL’s development programme, together with 354 homes being built at Barton Park, will see a total of 1,125 new council homes providing the genuinely affordable housing that Oxford needs.
The new council homes will be let at social rent, which is calculated with reference to the size and value of a home and average income for the region. In Oxford, social rent is typically around 40% of equivalent private rents.
This programme will mark the first significant development of council housing in Oxford since the 1970s – a new generation of council homes. In March, OCHL handed over the first of these – on Harts Close in Kidlington – to the council for letting to people on the housing register.
Another 301 homes are expected to be shared ownership and other affordable tenures. Shared ownership gives people the opportunity to get a foot on the property ladder by buying a stake in their homes that they would not otherwise be able to afford.
The remaining homes will be for market sale and the money raised by selling them will subsidise the building of council and other affordable housing. Whether for sale or rent, all OCHL homes will represent an investment in the sustainable future of Oxford by currently going at least 40% beyond current government carbon reduction targets and zero carbon by 2030.
OCHL is establishing a procurement framework for modular housing that will play a vital role in ensuring new housing in Oxford meets the zero carbon target. This framework will also provide the resources and expertise to unlock difficult sites that traditional developers would be unable to do while meeting the council’s requirements for affordable homes.
Why Oxford needs homes
High demand and scarce availability mean that Oxford is the least affordable place for housing in the UK. People on average outcomes are priced out of the housing market and private rents are nearly double the average for England as a whole.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in 2019 the median house price was £395,000 – 12.55 times median gross earnings (£31,472) in the city. For England as a whole, the median house price is 7.83 times median earnings. The cost of housing in Oxford puts home ownership out of the reach of people in occupations like teaching, nursing, transport and retail.
Half (49.3%) of homes in Oxford are now in the private rented sector, where the ONS reports a median private rent of £1,500 a month for a three-bedroom home. The equivalent amount for England as a whole is £795.
Meanwhile, there are currently more than 2,850 households on the council’s housing waiting list.
Many of Oxford’s most important workers cannot afford to live in the city. They are now living in Bicester, Banbury or Witney and face lengthy commutes on overcrowded roads every day.
“OCHL will build nearly 1,900 new homes in and around Oxford in the next 10 years because Oxford Needs Homes. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the first council homes in Oxford and OCHL’s programme includes a new generation of more than 1,100 council homes – the first significant council housing development since Blackbird Leys was completed in the 1970s.
“OCHL will also help more than 300 families onto the property ladder through other affordable housing like shared ownership – a step that would otherwise be out of reach. And the sale of homes at market rates won’t just subsidise council and affordable housing, they – like all OCHL homes – will represent an investment in the future of our city by building greener now and zero carbon by 2030.
“This will benefit everyone in our city. OCHL is building the right homes for Oxford."
Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, cabinet member for planning and housing delivery