JOINT PRESS RELEASE: Blackbird Leys residents asked for their views on whether empty garage sites could become new affordable homes for local people

Published: Tuesday, 26th October 2021

Oxfordshire Community Land Trust, Transition by Design and Oxford City Council are working together to identify brownfield sites – like disused council garages – that could be reclaimed for new homes.

They are holding an open drop-in event on Saturday 30 October from 11am to 2pm in the Jack Argent Room, Blackbird Leys Community Centre.

Some of the sites being suggested are in Blackbird Leys so the organisers are inviting local people to join and share their thoughts on if this is something they'd like to see happen in their local area.

The event will be an opportunity to help look at potential sites, share information about the needs of the neighbourhood and give ideas for the type of housing or community facilities that could be created. There will be interactive workshops as well as refreshments and food from The Damascus Rose Kitchen.

The event is part of a partnership project funded by the Housing Advisers Programme. The project will develop a strategy for reclaiming underused land for affordable and sustainable housing.

As part of the project, a long list of potential sites across Oxford are being mapped and surveyed to test their suitability for housing - including garage sites in the Blackbird Leys area. Each of these brownfield sites could make space for small-scale developments of several new homes, without losing any community green space.

Transition by Design bring their expertise in low-carbon design and will develop initial plans for between 15 and 30 comfortable and low carbon homes across at least five garage sites. The Oxfordshire Community Land Trust aims to ensure that any homes created in future are permanently affordable and owned by the community.

The project is still in the early stages and the partnership is first gathering support and ideas from the Blackbird Leys community. They invite local residents to participate in the event or share their ideas online to make sure that any development truly reflects the needs of the neighbourhood. Find out more here: www.oclt.org.uk/2021/10/13/garages.html

“Around 600 of the council’s 2,000 garages are vacant. These sites are often small with some barriers to construction, meaning that they are overlooked for larger housing projects. However with housing in Oxford becoming increasingly unaffordable and over 2,850 households on Oxford City Council’s housing list, new and innovative solutions are desperately needed.”

Oxfordshire Community Land Trust spokesperson, Fran Ryan

“Oxford is in the depths of a housing crisis and a climate emergency. As architects and urban designers, we know it’s possible to turn empty garage sites into low carbon, permanently affordable homes for social rent - transforming the infrastructure of a gas-guzzling past into a sustainable future for Blackbird Leys. But no one knows what the Leys needs better than those who live there so we’re really excited for folks to come and join us on Saturday to share their thoughts and help figure out whether this is an idea that would work in Blackbird Leys.”

Transition by Design spokesperson Lucy Warin

“Oxford needs homes, but more importantly it needs the right homes. Transition by Design and Oxfordshire Community Land Trust are recognised leaders in sustainable developments on difficult sites and working with communities to ensure that these are inclusive and meet the needs of local people. Please come to the event, hear about what we’ve been doing and help shape the future of this exciting, innovative project.”

Councillor Diko Blackings, cabinet member for affordable housing, housing security and housing the homeless

Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/402935624699903