Published: Thursday, 18 February 2021

In accordance with its Local Plan, Oxford City Council will spend over £50 million in retrofitting and improving its council housing stock.

The funding will come from a mixture of council borrowing and government funding as available, linked to its Clean Growth Strategy. Oxford City Council has set out an ambition to ensure all council tenants are living in a property which meets this at least EPC Band C standard by 2030.

Currently, we estimate that 50% of Oxford council homes currently meet or exceed this standard and we are carrying out further detailed surveys to target our investment programmes. The council’s strategy reflects Oxford’s enduring need for sustainable, efficient and enduring homes.

Retrofit is an exciting but challenging endeavour. It means creating better homes for people now and for the future.

At the recent Zero Carbon Oxford Summit, Oxford City Council along with other leading stakeholders across the city agreed an ambition to help achieve a zero carbon city by 2040. Retrofitting existing homes is key to realising that.

A report of carbon emissions found that 81% of the total carbon emissions within Oxford came from energy and fuel use in buildings.

Residential buildings contributed 29% of the total emissions, and were found to be the greatest single contributor. Within this, socially rented housing made up 21% of emissions, while privately rented and owned homes contributed 79% of residential housing emissions in Oxford.

The investment follows the council’s commitment to tackle the climate emergency, and the Oxford Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change last year.

Assembly members were surprised that the largest proportion of emissions in Oxford came from buildings. There was a perceived need for a balanced approach to decreasing emissions from buildings while simultaneously working to resolve the current affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Oxford.

Assembly members believed that the buildings sector should adopt improved building standards, widespread retrofitting, and more domestic and non-domestic energy needs being met by sustainable sources.

Buildings and carbon emissions in Oxford

The £50m of planned capital investment is on top of over £7m additional spend on reducing carbon emissions over the next four years to tackle the climate emergency.

Retrofitting council housing will include a range of innovative insulation solutions and fitting ground/air source heat pumps in council stock as we make the transition away from gas boilers. The council has committed to work closely with its tenants around measures to be implemented.

“Oxford can't deal with our carbon problem until we deal with our buildings emissions problem, and the city council will play a leading role. Despite the impacts of the pandemic on our council’s finances, we will be making huge investments in our 7,800 council homes. We want to work with tenants to make their homes more energy efficient, reduce emissions, and save them money. By showing leadership, we want private landlords and homeowners to join with us in making retrofitting investments in their own homes.”

Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford

“Our homes are essential for a successful society. They provide shelter and a safe space for us. But those homes need to be fit for purpose. They need to be ready for the challenges we face over the coming decades. We will lead the way in retrofitting our council housing stock to create better environments for people – and we will work with our tenants every step of the way. The measures being implemented will see tenants benefitting from lower energy bills. This will be supported by our ongoing commitment to developing further homes for the Oxford community by way of Oxford City Housing Limited.”

Councillor Mike Rowley, Cabinet Member for Affordable Housing

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