A MAJOR development will be built in the northwest of Oxford despite concerns about traffic and affordable housing.

The Oxford North development was approved by Oxford City Council’s west area planning committee at its meeting last night.

480 homes and space for 4,000 jobs will be built at the parcel of land owned by St John’s College between the A40 and A44 north of the city by the Wolvercote roundabout. 

The decision sparked a debate among councillors on the committee, with a split vote of six in favour and three against.

Concerns included the number of affordable homes on the site and the increased amount of traffic in the surrounding area which would be caused by the development.

Labour councillor Tiago Corais summed up the mood shared by many of his fellow committee members when he said he was voting ‘with his head, not with his heart’.

Oxford Mail:

Picture: TWO.

His fellow Labour councillor John Tanner said he was swayed by the guarantee of 35 per cent affordable housing at the site.

He admitted this was below the council’s aim of 50 per cent affordable homes at all developments, but would still help to tackle the housing crisis in Oxford.

Green councillor Dick Wolff disagreed and voted against the application.

He said he wanted more scrutiny of the roads planned through the Oxford North site, and wanted the development to not just go ahead, but ‘go ahead well.’

In September, city councillors decided to defer the application to ask TWO for more information about the 35 per cent limit on affordable housing at Oxford North.

They wanted to know if the developer could increase the amount of affordable homes to 50 per cent, or 240 across the entire site.

An assessment by real estate company JLL for the council suggested that between 25 per cent and 35 per cent affordable housing could be built at Oxford North, based on estimates of the cost of construction.

Oxford Mail:

Picture: TWO.

But TWO made an agreement with the city council to set 35 per cent affordable housing as the lower limit.

They agreed to look at costs each year and if building work is cheaper than expected, they plan to increase the amount of affordable homes by up to 50 per cent.

Affordable homes, as defined by the UK government, are houses sold at 80 per cent of the local market value.

In Oxford, this is often still expensive for many residents, so the city council is also aiming to build more ‘genuinely affordable’ homes.