More affordable, energy-efficient homes will be built in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse thanks to an improved affordable housing grants process.
As part of the district councils’ work to help meet the urgent need for genuinely affordable housing in the region, local developers, Community Land Trusts and self-builders can apply for a Section 106 affordable housing grant to build affordable homes that meet the councils’ climate criteria.
Both councils approved an improvement to the existing affordable housing policy* to enable funds from Section 106 developer contributions to be used as a grant to build affordable homes that are energy efficient and cheaper for residents to live in and heat.
The policy includes a revamped application process with clear evaluation guidelines and free expert consultation services for applicants who need additional guidance.
The new application form now includes questions which determine how projects will minimise energy use and carbon emissions, as well as how they have identified locally appropriate species and set up long-term management plans if they are adding tree planting and biodiversity improvements.
These are necessary to help achieve the Corporate Plan objectives of both councils to take action to tackle the climate emergency and South Oxfordshire’s to also ‘protect and restore our natural world’.
In South Oxfordshire, Section 106 developer contributions have previously been provided to the Henley and District Housing Trust to develop properties for social rent and to fit solar panels to reduce their carbon footprint.
Meanwhile, Section 106 developer contributions have been given to the Oxfordshire Community Land Trust to develop affordable homes at Dean Court, near Cumnor in the Vale.
The property design looked to achieve high levels of insulation, near PassivHaus standard, to minimise energy bills for residents. It is in a sustainable location serviced by regular and fast public transport connections to and from Oxford City Centre and bike racks provided on site.
Councillor Sue Caul – Cabinet Member for Affordable Housing, Infrastructure, Development and Governance at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “We’re doing everything within our power to address the challenge of living in one of the least affordable areas of the country. We encourage local developers, Community Land Trusts and self-builders to contact us if they need advice on the process so we can work together to help provide the affordable homes that residents need.”
Councillor Robin Bennett – Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “It’s essential that residents of South Oxfordshire have genuinely affordable, good quality homes available that are efficient to run and heat.
“Opening up this new, more efficient grant process, with clearer guidelines, will make it easier for us to assess the environmental sustainability of proposed homes ensuring residents benefit into the future.”