THOUSANDS of people on Oxford City Council’s housing waiting list “will be eligible” for affordable rented homes planned for South Oxford Science Village. 

Plans to build a total of 3,000 new homes south of Grenoble Road will start to take shape after the city council’s cabinet gave the green light to set out formal agreements with stakeholders, including the owners of two of the plots, Thames Water and Magdalen College. 

Another section of the land is owned by the city council but the entire patch falls under South Oxfordshire District Council’s jurisdiction.

The South Oxfordshire Local Plan states half of the homes must be allocated to affordable housing of which 40 per cent must be affordable rented, 35 per cent social rented and 25 per cent offered up as affordable routes to home ownership.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth (Lab, Carfax & Jericho), Oxford City Council’s cabinet member for housing and planning delivery, said ownership of social housing “is something we are working with partners to agree”.

The most recent available figures showed 2,850 requests for homes on the city council’s waiting list, a number that is understood to be rising, with the authority carrying the warning that lower-priority applicants “may have to wait many years before they receive an offer” on its website.

“The important thing is that we will have allocation rights,” said Cllr Hollingsworth.

“People from our waiting and transfer lists, dependent on how we cut that agreement with South Oxfordshire, will be eligible for this housing, not just first time but on an ongoing basis if we can get it over the line.”

Councillor Tom Hayes (Lab, St Clement’s) described the project as “such an important step forward” in tackling the housing crisis, particularly on a human level. 

“I grew up in council housing and provision was extraordinarily inadequate,” he said.

“There are not words that describe what that feeling is like. It is a claustrophobia, a thickening of the air, a tension that is in your home where you are meant to be warm, safe, nourished and nurtured. 

“When your parents feel that tension it makes them feel like there is a futility, it causes them to feel like they are failing you. 

“I remember some very frank conversations with my parents in recent years where they talked about that sense of failure, that sense of caring really deeply but being unable to give what they felt should be the bare essentials.

“When you do move into a new, better council home, as I did later in life, and you start to see some of those feelings dissipate, that is just the most remarkable gift.”