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‘We’ll back you if there is more affordable housing’

THE church at the centre of the Jericho boatyard development in Oxford has said it will only support it if there is more affordable housing.

Oxford Mail: St Barnabas Church council member Dr Henry Gibbon. Picture: OX68812 Jon Lewis

St Barnabas Parochial Church Council has said it will support the proposals but demand the quota is met.

Developers of the site Strategic Iconic Assets Heritage Acquisition Fund (SIAHAF) plan to build just seven affordable flats out of a total of 22.

That would still mean 32 per cent are affordable, but Oxford City Council’s planning policy says the minimum required is 50 per cent.

Church council member Dr Henry Gibbon said: “As a faith community we are committed to social justice and will insist that the 50 per cent level is met.

“We think this development is a very powerful and attractive vision for Jericho but we continue to listen with interest to the community’s concerns.”

SIAHAF is still negotiating with residents’ group the Jericho Wharf Trust (JWT) over the price of a community centre included in the plans.

Oxford Mail:

 An artist’s impression of the Jericho boatyard development 

The trust has hit out at the developer for locating the building above a planned boatyard and workshop facility and claims it has pushed up the price by £1.6m – to £6.6m.

JWT chairwoman Phyllis Starkey said unless SIAHAF paid the extra cost of the community centre, the group would not support the scheme.

She said: “If it is prepared to use some of its profits to do so, we will be happy to support the proposal.”

The trust is seeking assurances that the piazza square, planned to be the centrepiece of the development, will go into public hands.

English Heritage has also weighed in and said the commu-nity centre should be scaled back.

The Government-funded body said that in its present position the centre would block views of St Barnabas Church from Oxford Canal.

SIAHAF spokesman Nick Band said: “If you look at the scheme in its entirety, the contribution to social spaces is significant with more than 60 per cent open to the public. We have to set this against the cost of the development to reach a solution which is socially and commercially acceptable.

“We believe we have struck the right balance but are happy to hear the opinions of others.”

The public consultation period for the firm’s planning application officially ends today, though it is likely more comments will be received.

Oxford City Council’s west area planning committee is expected to consider the plans in the autumn.

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