ONE fifth of new homes at a £60m regeneration of Templars Square Shopping Centre will be affordable, new documents show, despite developers claiming it will make them £9m in profits.

As part of the 'once in a generation' project, developer NewRiver wants to build more than 200 new homes, shops, a 71-bed hotel and two new restaurants at Templars Square in Cowley, as well as demolish the 470-space Castle Car Park.

In documents submitted ahead of a planning meeting to decide on the project, developers insisted the project would be 'unviable' if there was any more affordable houses included in the scheme.

Affordable rented housing is let by local authorities or private registered providers of social housing at rents capped at 80 per cent of the local market rate.

Oxford City Council's own policy states that new developments should comprise 50 per cent affordable houses, however it also states it can be 'flexible' when 'balancing viability'.

Oxford was named as the least affordable place to live in a report this year by Lloyds Bank. Land Registry figures put the average house price in Oxford at £408,448.

Responding to the housing numbers, Oxford city councillor for the Cowley area David Henwood called the proportion of affordable homes proposed 'disappointing'.

He said: "As a local councillor I would of course like to see a higher ratio of quality social housing, that would help meet the Oxford's housing need.

"I also appreciate the economies of scale will also have a bearing on this proposal.

"The size of a cake, should not be determined just by appetite, but by its ingredients and sensible portions, and by needs of who is going to eat it.

"£9m profit may seem a high figure, and it would be for the developer to comment on. Clearly there are costs involved in delivering, maintaining and modifying the development.

"Whether the profit margin could accommodate more social housing or deliver better facilities in Cowley, is a judgement many will make."

A viability report accompanying the planning application shows that if approved, there will be 51 affordable homes included of the proposed 226, all inside an eight-storey block of flats situated at 51-59 Between Towns Road.

The block would comprise 27 one bed properties, 20 two bed flats and 4 three bed homes, all considered affordable. Meanwhile, the documents also claim that the project will make approximately £9,441,284 in profit for the developers.

Carol Stavris, of Oxford Housing Crisis, added: "The description of 'affordable' homes proposed for the scheme is meaningless in the Oxford context as this will be the government definition of affordability.

"New housing is to be welcomed, but if working people in Oxford are unable to afford to buy or rent, it cannot have a positive effect in reducing housing need."

In response to the concerns, Jamie Whitfield, Director of Commercial Development at NewRiver said: “Creating a successful and thriving town centre sits at the heart of this proposal and NewRiver believes that new housing is an important part of creating a vibrant community.

"In putting our proposals together, we have worked hard to balance the introduction of new affordable homes with the need for extensive investment into the wider community through an enhanced retail and leisure offer, upgraded public space and transport infrastructure and creating new job opportunities.

“Our ambition is for this project to become a positive example of how to create meaningful provision of new homes within Oxford’s existing townscape, and working closely with the council to address the identified need for new housing of all kinds.

“Our proposals for Templars Square and its immediate environment involve considerable investment from NewRiver, which has been carefully measured against the ambitious scale of the project.

"We are confident that our proposals will enhance the town centre for the whole community, provide a significant amount of new affordable housing, and bring a much-loved shopping centre back to life, with vital inward investment that is long overdue.”

Oxford City Council will decide the project at a planning committee meeting to be held on July 5.