<<Spic of CGI of how Homes for Oxford Wolvercote Paper Mill site would look.

Please credit: Transition by Design for image>>

AN ALLIANCE of community-led housing groups is to bid for the Wolvercote Paper Mill site.

Homes for Oxford will put in an offer for the Oxford University owned land by next Wednesday’s deadline <<May 25>>.

The group will face fierce competition from national developers for the 16-acre site, one of the largest within the Oxford ring road to go on the market for several years.

Outline planning permission was granted by Oxford City Council in December for up to 190 new homes, a GP surgery, office buildings, a community centre and lagoon.

It is thought the land could fetch £10m-£20m, with another £20-30m needed to fund development.

Fran Ryan, of Homes for Oxford and the Oxfordshire Community Land, said: “It’s a very big idea and there’s a lot of money involved.

“Nobody underestimates the challenges that we, as a community will face but we believe there is a very good chance we can raise the money.”

Homes for Oxford is working with environmental consultants Bioregional, which was behind the eco BedZED co-op housing in Surrey.

Homes for Oxford proposes six clusters of mixed tenure zero-carbon flats and terraced houses positioned around quads.

Fifty per cent of housing would be permanently affordable.

Of the 190 homes, 95 would be sold at full market value, 76 would be social housing for rental, with the remaining 19 available to buy through shared ownership.

A land trust would underpin the development, to keep half the homes permanently affordable.

It would be semi-pedestrianised, with a limit of one car per household giving less than 190 vehicles compared to existing plans which allow for 382.

Ms Ryan said much of the funding would come from deposits and off-plan sales of the 50 per cent of homes sold at full market value.

She said: “We have been told it will be a heavily contested site and we know some of the big developers are involved.

“We are looking for more members who want to buy a house on the site.

“Their deposits would go towards the cost but we need more time to raise the borrowing we would need to pay for the land – I see it mainly as a cash-flow issue.”

The group, which brings together Oxford Cohousing, Oxfordshire Community Land Trust, Kindling Housing Coop and Happy House, is also hoping for donations.

Homes for Oxford’s Deborah Glass Woodin said: “It’s possible to do it, financially, if we can get 120 people who want to buy, or part-buy and that is how the project will be funded.

“We would love the University to say there’s an opportunity here for key worker housing.

“It’s not just about the housing, it’s also about sustainable transport, and community issues.”

Wolvercote resident Steve Lunn said: “I am all for it and thoroughly support what they are trying to do.

“I hear people in the village saying is ‘It’s great here but our children couldn’t afford to live here.

Wolvercote and Summertown county councillor Jean Fooks said: “The idea is absolutely the right thing and something we have been pushing for.

“I don’t know if they will be able to raise the large sums of money needed – it’s a big site but good luck to them.”