Thomas White Oxford, the development company of St John’s College, has agreed with Oxford City Council to further details for a review mechanism for up to 50% affordable housing for Oxford North.
Subject to the grant of planning consent, as a long term investor TWO has committed to deliver a minimum of 35% affordable housing, the equivalent of 168 homes, of which 80% (134 homes) will be for social rent, and 20% (34 homes) for shared ownership, in line with policy requirements for tenure mix.
Following the West Area Planning Committee’s deferral from the 24 September 2019 meeting, the further details for the proposed review mechanism with Oxford City Council sets out how and when the viability appraisal will be reassessed over the lifetime of the development to ensure policy compliance and optimal public benefits through economic cycles.
Subject to planning, TWO will provide an annual, evidence-based summary of costs, including infrastructure, residential values and commercial rental values being achieved. If the economics of the project prove to justify more than 35% affordable homes, then up to 240 affordable homes, the equivalent of 50%, will be built.
TWO’s planning application aims to realise the pioneering vision defined for the site by Oxford City Council’s Area Action Plan of July 2015. The AAP anticipated a new, mixed-use, sustainable district for Oxford. TWO’s planning application provides for this by incorporating workspaces, small shops & bars, three new parks, infrastructure improvements and new homes, including much-needed affordable housing. Oxford North is forecast to contribute to the economy circa £150 million GVA per year.
A spokeswoman for Oxford North said: “From the outset, Oxford North has been about investing in Oxford and making a positive impact on people’s lives and future generations. In the last 10 years, we have worked with the City Council and a range of other bodies to define a scheme that will realise the exciting vision for the area set out in the AAP, while also meeting and wherever possible exceeding relevant technical and environmental standards.
“We continue to take a long term view on how to optimise what Oxford North is able to deliver. Our affordable housing offer and agreement to a review mechanism underlines our commitment to fully invest in the project and to assist the City Council in securing the £10 million Homes England’s Housing Infrastructure (Marginal Viability) Funding (HIF) and £5.9 million of advanced A40 transport infrastructure improvements secured from the central government Local Growth Fund. Such national level funding recognises that Oxford North is a scheme of importance to the City, the county and the national economy: to deliver the scheme requires substantial investment in local infrastructure.
“Together, such investment will deliver a sustainable, new innovation district with workspace for start-ups such as high-tech university spin-outs, and businesses, and much-needed new and affordable homes, all of which will transform people’s lives and the wider community and significantly deliver for the economy.”
Oxford City Council has announced that Oxford North’s planning application will be heard at the West Area Planning Committee on Wednesday 27 November 2019.