Oxford City Council concerned with obstacles to provision of affordable homes

Published: Friday, 13th May 2016

The Court of Appeal has restored a ministerial statement which excludes sites of 10 or fewer homes or 1,000m2 and less from making affordable housing contributions.

Oxford City Council requires residential sites of 4 to 9 units to make a financial contribution to the provision of affordable housing elsewhere in Oxford. This policy was adopted following extensive public consultation and reflects the huge housing need in Oxford and limited number of sites for development.

If accepted, the exemption would make it more difficult for councils to collect these important contributions and in Oxford approximately 50% of our developments are on sites of ten or fewer homes, given our urban setting and local circumstances.

Cllr. Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council said: “We are disappointed with this judgement and are concerned it will undermine our ability to provide the affordable homes that Oxford needs. Our policy was implemented to reflect the local circumstances and pressures in Oxford. Government policy is stopping the council from tackling the city’s desperate housing crisis.”

The ruling may create added difficulties to Oxford City Council already dealing with a range of government proposals that affect planned investment in affordable homes, including a council house rent reduction which will reduce income for investment and the forced sale of high value council properties when they become void in order to fund the extension of the right-to-buy scheme to housing association tenants.

To help address the city’s acute housing situation, Oxford City Council is setting up a housing company to deliver new affordable homes with a range of tenures to help address the city’s acute housing need. By acquiring sites and building houses, the company could influence the pace and type of house building in the city. The Council could also compulsorily purchase land allocated for housing from landowners reluctant to develop and sell it to the company to bring forward development more quickly.

The City Council has still to decide how it will deal with applications for residential development on sites of 10 and fewer homes in light of the Court of Appeal’s judgement.

For more information visit our Housing Strategies page.