A COMPANY that made 69 women homeless days before Christmas has still not sold the building.

Now Farndon Court – which used to be Oxford’s only all-female social housing block – is sitting empty and unused.

Catalyst Housing applied in February for planning permission to transform the Woodstock Road building into student flats so it could sell it to Oxford University, but now it has withdrawn that application.

Oxford Mail:

Some of the residents who lived at Farndon Court holding eviction notice from Catalyst Housing

One councillor thinks the housing association got the plans wrong when asking for ‘lawful development’ which would give the flats the thumbs-up to be lived in only by students.

Catalyst housing had said in its plans that the majority of residents in the block were already students – a claim which was backed up by the company's on-site manager.

But city councillor Mike Rowley, cabinet member for housing, said he thought the company may now have to start the process all over again and apply for full planning permission if it wanted only students to live in the block, and this could take months.

Oxford Mail:

Farndon Court nearly a year ago.

It has been almost a year since Catalyst explained in a letter to all residents that the decision had been made to sell the building to an owner that could ‘afford to make it modern’ and that the women in the block would have to find somewhere else to live, leaving them without a home days before Christmas.

At the time long-term resident Ou Wang said: “I came to Farndon Court in 1993, when it was owned by the YWCA – a charity with the aim of providing housing for vulnerable women.”

The 97-room block was bought by Catalyst in 2001, with the condition that it remain as a women-only flats for at least 10 years.

Oxford Mail:

Farndon Court now

However, it is now being sold to the university without any such condition.

A spokesperson at the university said it would be revamped into 100 rooms for students to ‘ease the burden on Oxford’s rental market’.

Rent at the block of flats cost £120 a week including bills, and residents did not have to pay a deposit.

Oxford Mail:

Post at Farndon Court, which is sitting empty and unlived-in

A timeline of stories about Farndon Court:

Mr Rowley said: “I see the owner made a particular kind of application for the council to certify that it was a ‘lawful’ development to use Farndon Court as student accommodation and then withdrew it.

"I suspect because a different, fuller application for ‘change of use’ is actually required.”

Catalyst Housing said the empty building had not been sold yet, explaining: “We have been continuing discussions with the University of Oxford about the sale of Farndon Court and hope to complete soon so that the building can be refurbished and bought back into use.”

The company refused to comment further.

An Oxford University spokesman said: “I can confirm that the university is working closely with Catalyst and expects to complete the transfer of the ownership shortly.”

The spokesperson did not comment on the plans anymore because they said it was an 'ongoing commercial transaction'.