A NEW housing company for Oxford is whirring into action, with plans to revamp estates and provide hundreds of affordable homes.

Oxford City Council said the organisation – which it wholly owns – is poised to build more than 160 new properties across the city on land it owns, including extensions and new units.

It will also snap up 95 of the first homes built at the Barton Park estate, due to be ready in spring 2018.

The company is set to get a £60m loan from the city council, under budget plans up for approval on February 20.

Stephen Clarke, the authority’s head of housing, said its ‘exciting’ proposals would begin as soon as possible.

He said: “We have to make sure there will always be affordable housing for people in the city, but we cannot just leave it to the private market because it is not delivering.

“But there is a huge shortage of land and housing associations clobbered by the rent caps are building less.

“Our policy remains that ‘affordable housing’ means social housing and so making sure it is still provided is one of the big issues.

“The housing company helps keep our options open.”

Mr Clarke said the organisation will also be involved in the multi-million pound redevelopments of community and housing facilities in Barton, and Blackbird Leys to a lesser extent.

“They are a very exciting set of proposals,” he added.

“We are just about to commission companies to do that work and hopefully it will really improve those areas and make them much more vibrant neighbourhood shopping centres.”

In the longer term, the housing company could also be an ‘insurance policy’ against government plans to sell more council housing, he revealed.

The city council still owns and lets about 7,800 homes.

Mr Clarke said: “At the moment those plans look to be on ice. But if the Government revisits the idea, the company is a potential vehicle for our housing.”