Oxford City Council has opened a public consultation on the masterplan to build new homes, including new council homes, in Iffley to help tackle the city’s housing crisis.
The masterplan has been created by the City Council’s housing company, OCHL, in partnership with developers Hill, and aims to deliver 31 new homes, ranging from maisonettes to family homes, on land at Meadow Lane in Iffley.
The homes would be built to Passivhaus-standard, meaning they will be amongst the greenest homes in Oxford.
The new homes would include at least 12 homes for social rent, which will be genuinely affordable as they will be let at around 40 per cent of private rent levels in Oxford.
Another three homes would be expected to be shared ownership – providing people with a stake in homes they would not otherwise be able to afford – or another affordable tenure.
The remaining homes will be sold for market value. These will help fund the new council and shared-ownership homes – alongside increasing the supply of new homes in Oxford.
The site was earmarked for development as part of the Oxford City Council 2036 Local Plan and OCHL have appointed experienced developer Hill as their development manager of the site.
The site is located within the Iffley Conservation Area as identified in the Local Plan 2036, therefore any development of the site would have to conserve and enhance the unique characteristics of Iffley and consider the nearby land at Meadow Lane Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the need for sustainable site drainage.
The site has most recently been used as paddocks/grazing land. A number of survey works have already taken place on site to help inform the proposals, including a preliminary ecological assessment, biodiversity assessment, bat/badger surveys, conservation and heritage assessment and an architectural contextual study.
The adjacent plot of land – known as the Memorial Field – is not included in the Local Plan and will be kept as open space for the local community.
A range of options are being considered for Memorial Field, including natural play areas, education areas or public meadows. As part of the consultation, OCHL will also be asking the public about the nearby Memorial Field.
The development aims to take Memorial Field from its current position in private ownership with no public access, to an area of green space which benefits the community and is publicly accessible.
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.
OCHL's 10 year plan
The homes on the land at Meadow Lane are part of OCHL’s programme to build 1,891 homes for rent and sale over the coming decade. Together with 354 council homes being built at Barton Park, this will see a total of 1,125 council homes providing the genuinely affordable housing that Oxford needs.
This programme will represent the first significant development of council housing in Oxford since the 1970s.
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.
People who want to share their views and find out more information are being encouraged to visit the consultation portal.
The consultation is open until 5pm on Friday 22nd October 2021.
The consultation of the masterplan is the first phase of consultation. Once this period ends the scheme will be reviewed in light of feedback.
Ahead of submission, a second phase of public consultation will be carried out, where updated proposals will be presented for a final round of feedback.
OCHL expects to submit a planning application for a sensitively designed scheme early next year.
"“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 development will allow us to build at new homes in Meadow Lane. In line with our Local Plan, at least 12 of these would be council homes and another three would be shared ownership or other affordable tenures. I encourage people to take part in this consultation and help us to tackle the housing crisis in Oxford.”
- Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Delivery