Nicola has consistently spoken out about the need for more housing in Oxford. Analysis has shown that Oxford is the least affordable place to live in the country, and the discussions Nicola has been having with Oxford City Council to date have centred around a problem with finding new sites to build new homes. Nicola has therefore been raising this with Government Ministers, calling on them to act and to recognise areas with high cost housing when implementing the new Housing Act.
Nicola therefore called a meeting with the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, Cllr Bob Price and David Edwards from Oxford City Council. The meeting allowed Council Leader Bob Price to set out Oxford City Council’s plans to deliver on much needed housing in the area including the establishment of the ‘Housing Company’, which will bring forward an initial programme of 1,000 homes. The Minister was clear that the new homes must work alongside the drawing up of a Local Plan for Oxford and that studies must be undertaken to ensure the proposals are financially viable. He urged the Council Leader to bring this forward as soon as possible, given the housing shortage facing our area.
The Department for Communities and Local Government are currently working on the regulations which will sit alongside the Housing Act. Nicola has been calling for Oxford to be considered ‘exceptional’ as is already the case with London. Greater London authorities will be required to build two affordable homes to replace each high-value council house sold in order to fund the Right to Buy scheme, and if the programme were to be extended to other high cost housing areas such as Oxford it could make a huge difference allowing a portion of the levy could be re-invested in to local housing. The Minister reassured them that he is very much in ‘listening mode’ and officials are meeting with other representatives from high cost areas to see what can be done.
Nicola was clear that she will not be letting the pressure drop, both with regard to the Government ironing out the terms and conditions to aid with housing development and also in ensuring that the City Council bring forward their Local Plan and work with surrounding Councils to find suitable housing sites.
Nicola will be following this up with the Minister as the Department takes a decision on High Value Housing Areas, and with the City Council as they progress the Housing Company.
Nicola says: Housing is the key issue for my constituents, many struggling to get on to the housing ladder while local authorities simply do not deliver on building new homes. Oxford is the least affordable city in the country and this meeting was vital in discussing how to bring forward affordable housing with support from the Government. Its now essential that this is done swiftly and I will be keeping up the pressure.