THE city council will spend more than £31 million on buying land and building houses in Oxford, with the aim of providing more affordable homes.

Oxford City Council's cabinet, its most senior councillors, agreed to spend an extra £31.647m on housing projects in the city earlier this week.

Among its plans, the council wants to buy two sites in Littlemore from another council: Oxfordshire County Council; which together could be bulldozed to make way for up to 66 houses.

Half of these new homes could be affordable.

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There are also plans to invest in other sites which the council already owns, which could mean more, cheaper homes for rent.

Mike Rowley, the council's cabinet member for affordable housing said spending the money would allow the council to expand its housebuilding plans 'above and beyond' what it had already committed to.

Oxford Mail:

Mike Rowley

Last month Oxfordshire County Council's leaders agreed to sell the sites in Littlemore to the city council.

These sites are part of the former Northfield Hostel at Sandy Lane, and an old vehicle depot at Lanham Way.

Council documents do not reveal the price at which both sites changed hands, but do say they were sold at an 'off-market' value.

Oxfordshire County Council also agreed to sell off the old swimming pool behind the community centre in Blackbird Leys.

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But no mention is made of this in the city council's plans to spend money on new housing projects.

The Northfield Hostel site could now become as many as 50 new homes, half of which would be kept by the council to rent out cheaply.

A budget of £13.5m has been laid out for this project, though work is still being carried out to find out how many homes could be squeezed on the site and planning permission needs to be given.

The former depot at Lanham Way could be knocked down to make way for as many as 16 homes according to the city council, and £6m has been budgeted for it so far.

Like the Northfield site, it also needs planning permission and other preparations before work gets under way.

The council is also planning to spend money on housing sites it has already started to work on.

This includes eight houses at Bracegirdle Road, Wood Farm; Mortimer Drive, Marston; and Broad Oak, Slade Park, which are all aimed at elderly people.

READ AGAIN about some of the new council house building work taking place

Because of an extra £545,000 the council now hopes to rent these all out at 'social rent' rates, which are cheaper than normal affordable rates.

A council report also said £9m will be set aside for two projects which have not yet begun.

Some of the construction work will be carried out by the council's company ODS.

Most of the £31.647m is being funded through borrowing, but parts of it are also coming from the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal and money the city council has been given through contracts with housing developers.

Councils are only able to borrow money in very specific ways, usually from a body called the Public Works Loan Board.