Response to petition on housing development in Iffley

Published: Tuesday, 10th August 2021

Our response to a petition calling on Oxford City Council not to build much needed new homes in Iffley.

Oxford needs homes. Oxford is regularly cited as among the least affordable places to live in the country and too many people – including nurses, teachers, bus drivers and shop workers – are priced out of the city they would like to call home. This housing crisis is an issue across Oxford and the country as a whole, and not just in Iffley – we currently have 2,850 families on the waiting list for council housing.

To tackle the housing crisis, we set up a housing company, Oxford City Housing Ltd (OCHL), to build 2,245 new homes over the next 10 years. Of these, 1,125 will be new council homes let at social rent and a further 301 will be in other forms of affordable tenure such as shared ownership. In Oxford, social rent is typically around 40% of equivalent private rents. Shared ownership helps people to get a foot on the property ladder by buying a stake in their homes that they would not otherwise be able to afford.

OCHL is a housing developer for the city of Oxford. Meadow Lane will provide at least 29 new Passivhaus-standard homes, including a minimum of 12 new council homes and three for shared ownership or another affordable tenure. 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.

This is the only way we can afford to build the new homes that Oxford desperately needs, and each new council home is a small but vital step in tackling systemic inequality in our city. Had OCHL not been successful in purchasing the land, it would have been acquired by a private developer.

The Meadow Lane site is located within a conservation area – as identified in the Local Plan 2036 – and will be treated as such through the planning process. As underlined by the Local Plan, the development proposals will be expected to conserve and enhance the unique characteristics of Iffley. OCHL has and will continue to consult with local residents to ensure that these much-needed new homes fit properly within the context and character of Iffley Village.

OCHL will shortly open public consultation on plans for the Meadow Lane plot, which has most recently been used as paddocks/grazing land. It is not a wildflower meadow. There are no plans to develop the adjacent Memorial Field plot and the consultation will include asking residents for their views on the best use for the Memorial Field. This will take the Memorial Field from private ownership with no public access to an area of green space which benefits the community and is publicly available.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, cabinet member for planning and housing delivery