Oxford residents who want to have their say on a five-year plan to tackle the city’s housing and homelessness crisis have a week left to take part in public consultation.
Oxford City Council’s draft housing, homelessness and rough sleeping strategy 2023-2028 sets out its intentions to provide more affordable and low carbon homes, improve conditions for renters in all tenures and do more to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping.
Consultation is open on the council's consultation portal and will close at 11:59 pm on Thursday 8 December.
People who are unable to complete online consultation should phone 01865 252173 or email StrategyandEnabling@oxford.gov.uk
As part of the consultation process, the council is also engaging with key stakeholders to seek their views on the proposed strategy.
As the housing authority for Oxford, the council is legally required to have a homelessness strategy and a strategy on rough sleeping. While there is no legal need for a housing strategy, the new combined strategy aims to provide joined up solutions to the housing and homelessness challenges facing Oxford.
Vision and priorities
Last year the council undertook a review of housing and homelessness which produced an evidence base, a draft vision and five emerging priorities. These were the subject of an initial round of public consultation last summer.
The council’s vision for the combined strategy is:
‘By 2028, addressing Oxford’s need for more affordable housing, improving the standard of housing in the city while lowering its carbon impact, with services and partnerships that are focussed on preventing people losing their homes, rapidly rehouse those who become homeless, and ending the need to sleep rough.’
The five priority areas flowing from this vision are:
- providing more, affordable homes
- great homes for all
- housing for a net zero carbon future
- preventing homelessness and adopting a rapid rehousing response
- ending rough sleeping
The end of pandemic support measures and a rapidly unfolding cost of living crisis are likely to increase demand for council services in what is already a challenging financial climate. Continued service transformation and partnership working will be paramount in helping the council rise to these challenges and deliver solutions to its five priorities.
Providing more, affordable homes means the council’s housing company OX Place will deliver the biggest council house building programme since the 1970s. Working with housing associations, the council’s target is for 1,600 new affordable homes by the end of 2025/26 – with at least 850 of these let at social rent. The council will also work with neighbouring councils to help ensure that more affordable housing is built in and around Oxford.
Great homes for all means that council tenants will have more say in the way their homes and communities are managed, with more locally focused services. The council is also investing £51m on maintenance, refurbishments and improvements to estates in the next four years. Adoption of a citywide selective licensing scheme in September means Oxford is the only council in England requiring a licence for all private rented homes and its licensing schemes will improve conditions for private rented tenants.
OX Place’s new homes will be a key part of delivering housing for a net zero carbon future, Standards for new developments will go beyond government targets, with OX Place aiming for zero carbon by the end of this decade. The council will invest £8.7m to improve energy efficiency in council homes and will also work to improve energy ratings for privately rented and owner occupied homes.
The council will put preventing homelessness and adopting a rapid rehousing response at the heart of its services. Early, joined-up intervention will sustain tenancies and prevent people from becoming homeless. Where this is unavoidable, people will be helped into a stable, suitable home as quickly as possible.
Ending rough sleeping is also a national priority and the council aims to ensure that nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford. A new £3.8m ‘housing led’ service tackling homelessness across Oxfordshire was launched in April. The Oxfordshire Homelessness Alliance’s default model for preventing and reducing rough sleeping is to provide settled homes as a first step in the road away from life on the streets.
The council will update the evidence base and strategy in light of consultation responses – ahead of implementation in 2023.
“If you’d like to play a part in shaping our response to Oxford’s housing and homelessness crisis, now is the time to make your voice heard.
“The challenges we face have been sharpened by the rapidly rising cost of living, which is likely to increase demand for council services at a time when we are also facing significant financial pressure.
“We believe our draft strategy will help us work more effectively towards meeting those challenges and we really value your views on our plans. Consultation is open until 11:59 pm on Thursday 8 December, so please have your say.”
Councillor Linda Smith, cabinet member for housing