A £4BILLION partnership with an investment firm will allow Oxford University to build thousands of new homes for its staff and students.

The institution has today announced that it has forged an agreement with Legal & General which will unlock plans to redevelop five sites in and around Oxford.

On green belt land at Begbroke, near Kidlington, 2,000 homes will be built with half being reserved for junior academic and non-academic staff.

In the first university-wide attempt to tackle the unaffordability crisis that has led to staffing shortages and high turnover rates, the homes will be offered for rent on three year leases at no more than 80 per cent of the market rate.

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A mixture of flats and houses could be built with those who earn less than £40,000 a year likely to be prioritised.

Oxford Mail:

David Prout, the university's pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources, said: "For us to thrive, we need brilliant professors and academics but also teams who work to support them.

"If you are a promising and talented young researcher, you probably have a lot of options for where to start your career.

"There are many issues to consider but fundamentally, they want good quality, affordable homes within touching distance of the city centre.

"At the moment working in Oxford is a bit like working in London in that people have to travel in from all over.

"We want to do what we can to make life a bit better for our staff."

The L&G agreement will see the investment firm and university co-design projects in Jericho, Summertown, Iffley and Osney Mead, as well as at Begbroke.

Administrative offices in Wellington Square could be redeveloped while the former examination board and continuing education offices in Ewert House, Summertown, could be replaced with student accommodation.

Osney Mead, next to the River Thames, is earmarked to host 500 new student homes and a science park.

Oxford Mail:

Meanwhile, in Court Place Gardens in Iffley, semi-detached houses would be pulled down on the site of an old manor house and replaced with yet more student accommodation.

It is hoped that the university will be able to offer every new student a place to live which could take some of the pressure off Oxford's wider rental market.

Many of these projects have been talked about before but the L&G partnership is seen as a significant step towards making them a reality.

It provides the capital without touching the university's £750million bond which has been reserved for large-scale academic projects including the new Tinbergen building in South Parks Road.

Mr Prout said that L&G was chosen because of its stability, history and the amount of financial resources at its disposal.

All the schemes will be built and funded by the investment partner, who will be given a lease of around 60 years and collect rent, while the university will operate them on a not-for-profit basis and retain the freehold in the majority of cases.

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Nigel Wilson, CEO of L&G, said: "Oxford University is one of the best in the world and a global brand.

"It has inspired generations of academics and researchers, and today also nurtures outstanding modern businesses with world-leading potential.

"Legal & General’s partnership with the University is a terrific example for cities across the globe to follow.”

The university-owned site at Begbroke was included in Cherwell District Council's local plan, which is currently being inspected by the Government.

Alongside the staff accommodation, 1,000 homes will be offered on the open market and the existing science park will be extended.

The site is seen as being well positioned because it could be easily linked to existing infrastructure in Kidlington and Yarnton, though more investment in bus routes and cycling schemes is planned.

Mr Prout said it was the local authority's decision to remove the site from the green belt but the university supported this move, particularly as the site doesn't have an abundance of natural features which makes it special.