Work begins on £10.9m development of 36 new homes in Oxford city centre

September 22, 2021

Work has started on a flagship Oxford City Council development to build 36 new homes in Oxford city centre.

Council housing company Oxford City Housing Ltd (OCHL) and developers Willmott Dixon have now begun ground work on the £10.9m project to redevelop the site of former homeless hostel Lucy Faithfull House. The new homes will be in a single block of four to six storeys, made up of 8 one-bed flats, 17 two-bed flats and one three-bed flat.

The project is being supported with more than £1m in funding from the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal and nearly three quarters (72%) of the development will be affordable – exceeding a council requirement for 50% affordable housing on developments of 10 or more homes.

The 36 flats will include 15 council homes let at social rent, three homes at affordable rent and eight homes sold on a shared ownership basis. The remaining 10 flats will be for market sale.

Due to open in late 2022, the project is part of OCHL’s ambitions to deliver more than 2,200 homes in and around Oxford over the coming decade.

The Lucy Faithfull House site homes also represent an investment in the sustainable future of Oxford by aiming for at least 40% beyond current government carbon reduction targets – helping the city on its journey to zero carbon for new developments by 2030.

The development will be car free, with the exception of two parking spaces for flats that can be adapted for people using wheelchairs. Each flat will have two bike parking spaces and rooftop solar panels will help generate up to 40% of the development’s energy use.

Each flat will have a private garden or balcony and the homes will also have access to two feature communal courtyards.

An archaeological excavation earlier this year unearthed new evidence of a Dominican Order (Blackfriars) friary which sat on the site from 1246 until after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1538. The new development will reference the Blackfriars’ black and white coat of arms by using light and dark building materials throughout.

The Lucy Faithfull House site homes are part of OCHL’s programme to build 1,891 homes for rent and sale over the coming decade. Together with 354 council homes being built at Barton Park, this will see a total of 1,125 council homes providing the genuinely affordable housing that Oxford needs.

This programme will represent the first significant development of council housing in Oxford since the 1970s.

Another 301 homes are expected to be shared ownership and other affordable tenures. Shared ownership gives people the opportunity to get a foot on the property ladder by buying a stake in their homes that they would not otherwise be able to afford.

The remaining homes will be for market sale and the money raised by selling them will subsidise the building of council and other affordable housing.

OCHL is in the process of establishing a procurement framework for modular housing that will play a vital role in ensuring new housing in Oxford meets the zero carbon target. This framework will also provide the resources and expertise to unlock difficult sites that traditional developers would be unable to do while meeting the council’s requirements for affordable homes.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, cabinet member for planning and housing delivery, said: “Oxford needs new homes and this flagship project will see OCHL deliver 36 new low carbon homes in the heart of our city. And more than that, Oxford needs more new affordable homes, which is why I am delighted that this scheme is providing 15 council homes at social rent and another 11 sub-market homes for affordable rent or shared ownership.”

Helen Horne, managing director at OCHL, said: “Redeveloping the former Lucy Faithfull House site will provide much-needed homes in the city centre and OCHL are pleased to now be working with Wilmott Dixon to help deliver these. These are early days, but this project is an integral part of our plans to build nearly 1,900 sustainable new homes in the coming decade.”

Richard Poulter, managing director at Willmott Dixon’s Central South region, said: “We are delighted to have started on site at Lucy Faithfull House. Procured through the Southern Construction Framework, the project will play an important role in OCHL delivering the council’s ambitious housing development programme.

“The requirement from the council to deliver a building with sustainability at its heart fits well with the principles of our organisation. Through our 2030 ‘Now or Never’ sustainability strategy, we are on our own journey to achieve net zero carbon in operation within the next decade.”

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