‘10 houses rule’ could halt West Oxford homes plan

The Oxford Times: The Abbey Road site. Picture: OX65085 Jon Lewis Buy this photo » The Abbey Road site. Picture: OX65085 Jon Lewis

A PLAN for nine homes in West Oxford should be refused as it does not offer enough affordable housing, a city planning officer has said.

Banner Homes wants to build nine houses in Abbey Road at the site of a former Avis car rental business, which moved out last year.

Developments of 10 homes or more must be at least 50 per cent affordable under Oxford City Council rules.

Council planning officer Matthew Parry has recommended councillors refuse the plan at a meeting next Tuesday.

He said: “The site is of a size, layout and location close to the city centre such that it could reasonably accommodate residential development to a significantly greater density than that proposed through the provision of a greater mix of dwelling sizes and types.

“The site therefore has the capacity to provide at least 10 dwellings.

“However the proposals fail to make provision for 50 per cent of the dwellings on site to be affordable homes, or to robustly justify on viability grounds either a lesser proportion on site or a financial contribution towards off-site provision.”

Banner said that following a site meeting discussing a draft scheme, a planning officer had recommended the site was viable for only nine homes and it would still have to give 15 per cent of the plan’s sale value, £658,000, for affordable homes. But the council said this is too little.

Related links

Labour executive board member for city development Colin Cook said: “We have a policy in general terms of not allowing developers to artificially divide up a site or limbo under the 10 houses rule in order to avoid social housing.

“We have seen applicants trying to avoid the social housing requirement by either under occupying a site or to a lesser extent artificially dividing it up. But the officers are wise to that sort of thing and that might be why we have not seen that many instances of it.

“Some developers will try it on but we know what sites are capable of holding and some will fall above the 10 threshold while others will fall below it.”

One resident wrote to the council about the plans to offer “general support”, Mr Parry said.

But they also wrote: “A system needs to be installed that stores excess water to dispense slowly, avoiding flooding as the sewers are currently inadequate.”

Oxfordshire County Council, responsible for roads, urged against giving residents on-street parking permits, but one per home was supported by Mr Parry.

A spokesman for Banner Homes said it had discussed a draft scheme for nine four-bedroom houses as well as affordable housing during a planning officer’s site meeting in November 2012.

He said: “Essentially the planning officer considered the strong character of Abbey Road was such that only a scheme of nine houses could be satisfactorily accommodated.

“On this number of dwellings the affordable housing policy provides only for an off-site financial contribution, which we have offered as part of our planning application.”

He said despite the strong local support for the plan shown at an exhibition, planning officers have since “changed their position” and now feel the site can accommodate more than nine dwellings.

He said: “We do not believe that we have deliberately designed a scheme to avoid the provision of on-site affordable housing but have carefully followed the planning officer’s advice and the views of local people to produce a scheme that will considerably enhance the character of Abbey Road.

“We are therefore very disappointed that the application is to be recommended for refusal.”

Comments (11)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

7:27am Wed 5 Feb 14

jamiek says...

Typical council blackmailing developers again!!!!!!!!!!!!
Typical council blackmailing developers again!!!!!!!!!!!! jamiek

9:54am Wed 5 Feb 14

mytaxes says...

Yet again a Councillor telling us what is good for us. You were voted in to represent us Mr. Cook, why don't you do that? Let's remember how councillors treat the taxpayer when it comes to giving them our votes.
Yet again a Councillor telling us what is good for us. You were voted in to represent us Mr. Cook, why don't you do that? Let's remember how councillors treat the taxpayer when it comes to giving them our votes. mytaxes

10:08am Wed 5 Feb 14

xenarthra says...

If the council want the limit for affordable housing to be 9 houses, why don't they set it at 9 houses?!
If the council want the limit for affordable housing to be 9 houses, why don't they set it at 9 houses?! xenarthra

12:17pm Wed 5 Feb 14

NewHinksey94 says...

It is just these type of policies that are restricting badly needed residential development taking place in Oxford. In the latest published HCA figures Oxford City was one of only 2 councils in the south and south west who had reported no housing starts in the period April to September 2013. The other one was the Isles of Scilly!
We all agree affordable housing is required however if the City were to look for a lower percentage then many more affordable and private homes would be built in the City.
It is just these type of policies that are restricting badly needed residential development taking place in Oxford. In the latest published HCA figures Oxford City was one of only 2 councils in the south and south west who had reported no housing starts in the period April to September 2013. The other one was the Isles of Scilly! We all agree affordable housing is required however if the City were to look for a lower percentage then many more affordable and private homes would be built in the City. NewHinksey94

12:26pm Wed 5 Feb 14

downsview says...

Developers manipulate the system to avoid affordable FACT!
Developers manipulate the system to avoid affordable FACT! downsview

12:43pm Wed 5 Feb 14

xenarthra says...

downsview wrote:
Developers manipulate the system to avoid affordable FACT!
What manipulation is going on here though? The rule says 10 houses. They are building 9 houses. If the speed limit is 70 mph and I drive at 69 mph I am not manipulating the system, I am simply staying below the limit. Same here.
[quote][p][bold]downsview[/bold] wrote: Developers manipulate the system to avoid affordable FACT![/p][/quote]What manipulation is going on here though? The rule says 10 houses. They are building 9 houses. If the speed limit is 70 mph and I drive at 69 mph I am not manipulating the system, I am simply staying below the limit. Same here. xenarthra

6:54pm Wed 5 Feb 14

faatmaan says...

how about only allowing social housing below a certain sale price to be built on all sites for a few years to redress the total lack of affordable homes in Oxford, but what also would affordable be defined as, as most of the workforce would be unable to raise a deposit yet pay the absurdly inflated prices of new property in Oxford .How soon before all non professional workers have to be bussed in from afar as nowhere in Oxford is affordable.
how about only allowing social housing below a certain sale price to be built on all sites for a few years to redress the total lack of affordable homes in Oxford, but what also would affordable be defined as, as most of the workforce would be unable to raise a deposit yet pay the absurdly inflated prices of new property in Oxford .How soon before all non professional workers have to be bussed in from afar as nowhere in Oxford is affordable. faatmaan

9:01pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Andy of jericho says...

This is a great shame. Residents wanted this development which - for once - was in tune in style and size with its neighbours. It is also dishonest. If the rule is 9 houses, the rule is 9 houses. If you want a different number then change the policy. I hope the developer goes to appeal. Council playing fast and loose as ever and totally disregarding what they people who they supposedly represent want
This is a great shame. Residents wanted this development which - for once - was in tune in style and size with its neighbours. It is also dishonest. If the rule is 9 houses, the rule is 9 houses. If you want a different number then change the policy. I hope the developer goes to appeal. Council playing fast and loose as ever and totally disregarding what they people who they supposedly represent want Andy of jericho

10:25am Thu 6 Feb 14

xenarthra says...

faatmaan wrote:
how about only allowing social housing below a certain sale price to be built on all sites for a few years to redress the total lack of affordable homes in Oxford, but what also would affordable be defined as, as most of the workforce would be unable to raise a deposit yet pay the absurdly inflated prices of new property in Oxford .How soon before all non professional workers have to be bussed in from afar as nowhere in Oxford is affordable.
If the council or central government want to sell subsidised houses to certain sectors of society, that is all well and good. But government should pay for it, out of general taxation. Forcing developers to bear the cost seems grossly unfair. We don't compel Tesco to sell food at below cost price to certain groups of people, so we do we do it to developers? We need more houses, not fewer. Build enough houses and prices will fall of their own accord, without the need for any socialist meddling.
[quote][p][bold]faatmaan[/bold] wrote: how about only allowing social housing below a certain sale price to be built on all sites for a few years to redress the total lack of affordable homes in Oxford, but what also would affordable be defined as, as most of the workforce would be unable to raise a deposit yet pay the absurdly inflated prices of new property in Oxford .How soon before all non professional workers have to be bussed in from afar as nowhere in Oxford is affordable.[/p][/quote]If the council or central government want to sell subsidised houses to certain sectors of society, that is all well and good. But government should pay for it, out of general taxation. Forcing developers to bear the cost seems grossly unfair. We don't compel Tesco to sell food at below cost price to certain groups of people, so we do we do it to developers? We need more houses, not fewer. Build enough houses and prices will fall of their own accord, without the need for any socialist meddling. xenarthra

3:22pm Thu 6 Feb 14

Oxford Optimist says...

xenarthra wrote:
downsview wrote:
Developers manipulate the system to avoid affordable FACT!
What manipulation is going on here though? The rule says 10 houses. They are building 9 houses. If the speed limit is 70 mph and I drive at 69 mph I am not manipulating the system, I am simply staying below the limit. Same here.
That is a bonkers comment - there is no comparison at all.
It is the law that requires you to drive at not more than 70mph. There is no requirement on the developer to build a given number. A better comparison is paying taxes - the tax you pay rises as you earn more. If you cap your wages at just below a tax hike you avoid that increased tax. These developers are artificially building less than the site could hold to avoid contributing to a fair and reasonable policy that seeks to increase affordable housing. And I say it's fair and reasonable as it went to public consultation, was objected to by developers and at a public inquriy where all sides could be heard, a Planning Inspector agreed it was an appropriate planning policy for Oxford. I would have though Colin Cook is doing exactly what he should, implementing the lawful policies of the Council and making the decisions he was elected to make. I elect my representatives to get on and do the job, not to ask me (and the rest of my fellow electors) what they want me to do everytime they make a decision.
[quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]downsview[/bold] wrote: Developers manipulate the system to avoid affordable FACT![/p][/quote]What manipulation is going on here though? The rule says 10 houses. They are building 9 houses. If the speed limit is 70 mph and I drive at 69 mph I am not manipulating the system, I am simply staying below the limit. Same here.[/p][/quote]That is a bonkers comment - there is no comparison at all. It is the law that requires you to drive at not more than 70mph. There is no requirement on the developer to build a given number. A better comparison is paying taxes - the tax you pay rises as you earn more. If you cap your wages at just below a tax hike you avoid that increased tax. These developers are artificially building less than the site could hold to avoid contributing to a fair and reasonable policy that seeks to increase affordable housing. And I say it's fair and reasonable as it went to public consultation, was objected to by developers and at a public inquriy where all sides could be heard, a Planning Inspector agreed it was an appropriate planning policy for Oxford. I would have though Colin Cook is doing exactly what he should, implementing the lawful policies of the Council and making the decisions he was elected to make. I elect my representatives to get on and do the job, not to ask me (and the rest of my fellow electors) what they want me to do everytime they make a decision. Oxford Optimist

3:34pm Thu 6 Feb 14

NewHinksey94 says...

Oxford Optimist wrote:
xenarthra wrote:
downsview wrote: Developers manipulate the system to avoid affordable FACT!
What manipulation is going on here though? The rule says 10 houses. They are building 9 houses. If the speed limit is 70 mph and I drive at 69 mph I am not manipulating the system, I am simply staying below the limit. Same here.
That is a bonkers comment - there is no comparison at all. It is the law that requires you to drive at not more than 70mph. There is no requirement on the developer to build a given number. A better comparison is paying taxes - the tax you pay rises as you earn more. If you cap your wages at just below a tax hike you avoid that increased tax. These developers are artificially building less than the site could hold to avoid contributing to a fair and reasonable policy that seeks to increase affordable housing. And I say it's fair and reasonable as it went to public consultation, was objected to by developers and at a public inquriy where all sides could be heard, a Planning Inspector agreed it was an appropriate planning policy for Oxford. I would have though Colin Cook is doing exactly what he should, implementing the lawful policies of the Council and making the decisions he was elected to make. I elect my representatives to get on and do the job, not to ask me (and the rest of my fellow electors) what they want me to do everytime they make a decision.
If this policy is so "fair and reasonable" why is so little residential development taking place in Oxford City? It is a disgrace that no new houses were started last year resulting in 50% of nothing! If the amount required on each site was at a reasonable level, say 35%, more sites would come forward for development and more not less affordable housing would be provided.
[quote][p][bold]Oxford Optimist[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]downsview[/bold] wrote: Developers manipulate the system to avoid affordable FACT![/p][/quote]What manipulation is going on here though? The rule says 10 houses. They are building 9 houses. If the speed limit is 70 mph and I drive at 69 mph I am not manipulating the system, I am simply staying below the limit. Same here.[/p][/quote]That is a bonkers comment - there is no comparison at all. It is the law that requires you to drive at not more than 70mph. There is no requirement on the developer to build a given number. A better comparison is paying taxes - the tax you pay rises as you earn more. If you cap your wages at just below a tax hike you avoid that increased tax. These developers are artificially building less than the site could hold to avoid contributing to a fair and reasonable policy that seeks to increase affordable housing. And I say it's fair and reasonable as it went to public consultation, was objected to by developers and at a public inquriy where all sides could be heard, a Planning Inspector agreed it was an appropriate planning policy for Oxford. I would have though Colin Cook is doing exactly what he should, implementing the lawful policies of the Council and making the decisions he was elected to make. I elect my representatives to get on and do the job, not to ask me (and the rest of my fellow electors) what they want me to do everytime they make a decision.[/p][/quote]If this policy is so "fair and reasonable" why is so little residential development taking place in Oxford City? It is a disgrace that no new houses were started last year resulting in 50% of nothing! If the amount required on each site was at a reasonable level, say 35%, more sites would come forward for development and more not less affordable housing would be provided. NewHinksey94

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree