The City Council is investing over £3.68 million in the current financial year to improve its housing stock and residential estates, including replacing bathrooms and kitchens, providing new car and bike parking spaces, and communal gardens.
Seventy-five households at Townsend Square in East Oxford will benefit from an ongoing £800,000 refurbishment programme to repair balconies, provide additional car parking space, new bike storages and bin stores. The makeover of gardens will include edible planting schemes to allow the residents to pick their own fruits and enjoy their garden. Recipes and ideas on when to pick are also part of this package.
In keeping with housing and fire safety regulations, residents will not be permitted to use the communal areas to store or dispose of their belongings or rubbish. The new bin stores will be provided for each block and will be located as close as possible to the entrance of the flats. The new bike sheds will allow residents to store their bikes in a secure and dry place at ground level.
New car parking spaces will resolve a longstanding parking shortage at the square. The new parking spaces will be placed in the green spaces in the centre of the square and will be for all residents.
Under the ongoing ‘Investing in Barton’ regeneration scheme, the council is spending £1.4 million in the current financial year to improve the exterior of the blocks of flats on the estate, improve the street scene by knocking down old garages and storage areas, and providing new car parks.
In 2015, the council decided to go above and beyond the national ‘Decent Homes’ standard for its 7,800 flats and houses and instituted the ‘Oxford Standard’, under which council properties have seen more regular replacements of bathrooms and kitchens. In the current financial year to date, the council has replaced 107 kitchens and 86 bathrooms at a cost of £1,081,000. In the previous year, 290 kitchens and 265 bathrooms were replaced at a cost of £2,424,760.
Councillor Mike Rowley, Board Member for Housing, said: “Oxford City Council has continued to own, manage and invest in its council housing; we are among the 166 out of 326 local housing authorities in England to have retained their housing stock. Government policy has made that more and more difficult to achieve – nonetheless we have continued our capital investment programme. Over the next four years we expect to invest in the region of £180 million on capital works, maintenance, new build and house purchase.”