Countdown is on: help make community-led housing a priority in the Local Plan
We are still doing everything we can behind the scenes to try and secure affordable housing in Oxford and we need your help again.
Here's the deal: we need as many people as possible to fill in a online questionnaire with their views on what they want to see in the Local Plan. We'll tell you how to do this below, but in the meantime please encourage any friends, family and colleagues who are passionate about seeing community-led housing in Oxford to get involved.
We are on a tight deadline, guys. We have until Friday, August 25 to make a difference so please give ten minutes of your time today to fill in this form if you can.
The Local Plan 'Preferred Options' questionnaire is a rather complex process but this is democracy at work and we need to invest some time if we want to help the planners get it right for us to be able to deliver more community-led homes.
We’ve tried to make it easy for you so you really can do something quickly.
The greatest impact will come from specifically responding to the preferred options in the Local Plan at the link below.
You will need to register. Click on the link here to fill in the online questionnaire.
Or to access the main Oxford City Council page, click here and scroll down to the small green box button and click on ‘Respond by filling in the online questionnaire’.
If you prefer to write to the planners with your views either in a letter or email, this is also an option (although bear in mind we want to win them over, not bury them under a mound of correspondence!).
Many people have responded already and some such as the Oxford Civic Society at great length and we are delighted by that.
But if, like me, you are bamboozled by the sheer length and complexity of it, we've created some key messages you might want to cut and paste into the online document.
1. We need a specific policy that promotes, supports and privileges Community Led Housing (CLH).
CLH meets not only housing objectives but also EVERY other key city objective: it’s innovative, it builds diversity and sustainability, it builds community and creates wellbeing. No other form of housing can offer this. There is no specific place to say this so be creative in how you get the point over. We (Homes for Oxford/OCLT/Cohousing/Kindling/OFHN etc) are working on a policy that we plan to submit so help us out by asking for that. If you need more details then email Fran at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. There are particular housing options in the Preferred Options that you can respond to and here are the ones we think are most important for CLH:
Option 10 Determining the priority types of Affordable Housing:
10A: We support this. However, an 80/20 split on all sites does not provide enough intermediate housing for people who are not in the social-rent category, but who cannot afford to pay full market rents, particularly care assistants and others on low incomes who are essential for our society to function.
10B: We support this. This is an important modification to 10A and we would like to explicitly include community-led developments offering affordable housing in perpetuity.
We suggest including: “Locally approved non-registered providers such as Community Land Trusts (CLT) and other community-led housing organisations that meet agreed criteria”.
Option 12 Meeting intermediate housing or employment sector specific needs based on local affordability approaches:
12A: We’d like CLH organisations to be included here:
We suggest some additional words to enable CLH sector organisations to make use of this policy, such as: “On specified sites, allow schemes that are up to 100% intermediate housing, with reduced or no element of social rent housing required. This could apply to University and Hospital Trust sites to support key staff; school campus sites, other staff accommodation schemes or sites developed by a not-for-profit community-led housing organization such as a land trust or cohousing group.”
And we want the Council to do everything in its power to keep all affordable housing permanently affordable such as through a Community Land Trust.
Option 12B: We support this but would add:
Community Land Trusts and other CLH schemes offer a mechanism to lock in affordability in perpetuity and can deliver affordable housing particularly intermediate (between social rent and market value).
We consider there is merit in widening the choices for people unable to buy or rent a home they need. However the Council is prioritising rental properties which closes the door on those aspiring to own their own home who can’t quite achieve it. The Council shouldn’t rule out shared ownership held by an RSL or locally approved community-led housing organization especially where there is no right to staircase to the full amount. Similarly starter homes could be pegged at a maximum of 80% of open market value in perpetuity (or preferably a lower % if a local definition of affordability is agreed) with subsequent sales to be agreed by the council, RSL or community-led housing organization. This could also include a requirement for sale to a person with a local connection to Oxford.
Option 12C: We support this:
An Oxford Living Rent offers a good starting point for developing a locally appropriate affordability policy.
Don't forget the deadline to give your views is Friday, 24 August so time is of the essence!
If you would like to talk to us more about the Local Plan or have any questions, please email email@example.com. To read about our previous attempt to secure affordable housing at the Irving Building in Oxford, click here.
Less than 24 hours to the elections! Make your vote count for affordable housing in Oxford
How fantastic is this poster! In response to Red Pepper's call for campaign posters, Transition by Design answered the call out with an #endtoryrule poster that focuses on housing.
Check out Red Pepper's website for other creative campaign posters.
Please feel free to share this poster with your friends, family and network - and be sure to make your vote count tomorrow!
A sad day for Homes for Oxford - and the community
We've just heard that Homes for Oxford's bid to buy the Irving Building was unsuccessful. As you know we were doing this via Oxfordshire Community Land Trust.
All we know at this point is that the successful bid was not conditional on gaining planning approval (ours was conditional). We await with interest to find out who has won and what they plan to do on the site. Please let us know if you hear anything.
In the meantime we are sitting tight and considering what we do next. We will be in touch again soon but for now we would like to say a hearty thank you for your support over the last two years. If anyone wants to see our bid brochure, click here.
The day of reckoning is here!
We have submitted our offer for the Irving Building accompanied by a stunning brochure and look forward to sharing it with you in due course (hopefully having been successful!).
The brochure is illustrated with several of the charming photos taken by one of the parents before the school closed (thank you, Kate).
We were also able to use the many amazing messages of support from people like Bob Price (Leader of the Council), Peter Thompson (outgoing chair of Oxford Civic Society), Jayne Woodley (Oxfordshire Community Foundation), Danny Dorling (Oxford University) and many others all of whom would like to see a community-led housing project start in the city.
The mission we are on is to create a thriving sector of community-owned permanently affordable homes in the city… without real affordability the city is not sustainable and we won’t have teachers, care workers (two groups we are especially concerned about), bus drivers etc. to run the place.
So send positive vibes to those making the decision and if you still want to help further, make sure you’ve donated your bit to the Just Giving Fund. We’ll let you know here and via our email newsletter once we hear.
Oh, and join us at the Rusty Bicycle (see map below for location) at 6pm tonight if you want to share a moment to celebrate getting in a great bid.
Bids in by this Friday at noon!
Only a few days to go now, bids in by Friday at noon! We have a great bid and we are all optimistic about securing this lovely building.
So please don’t forget to show your support by making a small donation and comment via our Just Giving page. It really helps us along the way to see your names and read your comments and know you are supporting us out there.
If Just Giving isn't your thing but you'd like to contribute, then please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two weeks to go to submit the bid!
Join us and be part of the community-led project to buy the Irving Building and create Oxford’s first community-led, affordable housing development.
HfO (Homes for Oxford) is working closely with Oxfordshire Community Land Trust (OLCT) to bid for the Irving Building, a former school in Hertford Street, East Oxford. The OCLT will lead the bid – currently in its advanced stage – and, if successful, the Trust will buy and develop the site, and retain the freehold of the land.
The bid submission deadline is noon on Friday, 7 April and we need your help to secure this beautiful and historic building for affordable housing.
We want to transform the site into a community-owned, mixed tenure development with at least 50 per cent of permanently affordable homes.
And Parochial Church Council (PCC), which is selling the Irving Building, has added an imaginative requirement. They want the new owners to build a brand new hall, which the nursery school adjoining the site will be able to use. The new building could also be used by residents and the local community. This is an exciting addition and another reason why we are doing everything we can to make the winning bid!
We are happy to tell you that the PCC has made it clear that any bids to demolish the Irving Building will not be considered, so this historic and beautiful old school will remain intact. As well as the new hall, as part of its charitable aims the PCC has specified that two affordable homes for key workers are to built and given back to them.
As well as new hall, the PCC want bidders to include community feedback in their tender, so this is the perfect opportunity to have your say. As a bottom up community-led organisation, HfO feels confident that we can provide some useful insights from people living in the area so now is the time to share your views. You can do that by filling in our support form below.
Another way you can get involved is to become a member of the Land Trust.
We already have several members of the local community actively working with us on our proposals; so do get in touch if you’d like to help, too.
It’s always a worry with charity land disposal that lawyers will advise them to go for the highest price. And, as the community document outlines, the PCC need to consider the financial value of any bid quite seriously as they need to support work at the SSMJ Meadow Lane school site.
So, there is still a risk that even though our bid will be good value and very much in line with short and long-term community benefit, a private developer with deep pockets could win the building. But the bid documents appear to suggest that, in this case, financial value of a bid alone will not suffice. Any thoughts on the best way to work around this obstacle gratefully received!
With the bid submission date looming - noon on Friday, 7 April - the time is now to act. We are continuing to work hard on creating the best bid in our power and fine tuning our designs in light of the new requirements.
Our business manager is staying in touch with funders and locally we are rallying support.
How you can help
DONATE: We still need to raise a bit more money for the final design via our Just Giving fundraising page. Donate here if you can – even small donations show that the community cares about what happens to the Irving Building.
SUPPORT: Tell us your thoughts and give us a statement of support either here or in the form, below. This will also give us your contact details so that we can let you know the result. Your details won’t be passed on to outside parties, and will only be used to show the PCC the level of support we have locally.
Here are the PCC's proposed site plans. You can also read more about the PCC’s requirements of sale here and community briefing note here.
HfO/OCLT plans (we are still preparing new plans to include the new Hertford Hall) are here.
A gallery of photos of the beautiful Irving Building in Hertford Street, East Oxford
Homes for Oxford (HfO) is a new alliance of local housing organisations, which combines their passion and expertise to combat the housing crisis in Oxford.
Our community led organisation has been created by residents, for residents, to meet the local housing need.
Our commitment is to ensuring that affordable homes remain genuinely and permanently affordable over time.
Built for reduced environmental impact to ensure the long-term future of the local and wider community.
Our homes will be designed for community living; mutual support and well-being, with plenty of green space.