Oxford City Council has opened public consultation on draft plans for the redevelopment of Underhill Circus.
The plans follow an initial round of consultation with residents and community groups in December 2018. They envisage revitalising Underhill Circus with the creation of better public spaces, improved space for shops and changes to the road layout.
Redevelopment would also see the council demolish seven homes and the shops in the middle of Underhill Circus to build 42 new energy efficient homes in a mix of flats and houses.
To blend in with the surrounding area these will be in three storey blocks, with a single four storey block facing Barton Neighbourhood Centre containing ground floor space for a supermarket. There will also be space for three other shops to be relocated.
All the new homes will be let at social rent – council homes – or sold on a shared ownership basis.
The council is aiming for carbon emissions 70% below current building regulations by using high level airtight insulation and rooftop solar panels.
If the plans are approved, Underhill Circus will look very different after redevelopment. New homes on the northern part of the site will see the closure of Underhill Circus between Fettiplace Road and Stowford Road, with the introduction of two-way traffic and relocation of bus stops to the southern half of the road.
A central mews street will divide the site in two and provide overlooked pedestrian and cycle access through the development. Configuration of the blocks will allow the creation of two communal courtyards, with resident-only fob access to the southern courtyard.
A public square will provide connections to Bayswater Brook park, Barton Neighbourhood Centre and the relocated shops. All public spaces will be enhanced with new trees, shrubs and planting.
As the development will involve the demolition of existing shops and homes, the council will aim to minimise disruption to residents and businesses during phases of construction. This could include the temporary relocation of shops onsite and details will be confirmed once a construction timetable is in place.
Consultation questionnaires are being delivered to local residents and businesses in Barton.
The plans are available for inspection at Barton Neighbourhood Centre when the community larder is open (Tuesday 2pm to 4pm).
There will be opportunities to view the plans on Friday 10 September, when they will be displayed at a pop-up event outside the shops from 3pm to 4pm. They will also be on public display at the Barton Bash on Saturday 25 September.
The project team is holding a Zoom consultation session on Tuesday 7 September between 6pm and 7:30pm. People who are interested in attending this session need to register in advance. This can be done through this link, by calling 0344 225 0003 or emailing [email protected]
Consultation closes on Friday 1 October.
The council expects to submit a planning application this autumn. If planning permission is granted and funding is secured construction could begin onsite in late 2022.
“We want to ensure that our plans meet the needs of the Barton community, so please have your say and take part in our consultation.”
Councillor Diko Blackings, cabinet member for affordable housing, housing security and housing the homeless
Oxford Needs Homes
High demand and scarce availability mean that Oxford is among the least affordable places 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 2020 the median house price in Oxford was £400,000 – 11.72 times median gross household earnings (£34,124) in the city. For England as a whole, the median house price is 7.84 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 £1,450 a month for a three-bedroom home. The equivalent amount for England as a whole is £800.
Meanwhile, there are currently more than 2,850 households on the council’s housing waiting list.
This means that many people are living in overcrowded conditions or priced out of the city altogether. More than half of the people who work in Oxford face lengthy commutes on overcrowded roads every day. The cost of housing means that nearly a third of Oxford’s children live below the poverty line.