BROWNFIELD sites could be used to create more homes to help tackle the city’s ‘housing crisis’ and the climate emergency.

Oxford City Council, along with its development partners Oxfordshire Community Land Trust and Transition by Design, said it is beginning a process that will identify brownfield sites, like disused council garages, that could be ‘reclaimed’ for new homes.

Currently, around 600 of the council’s 2,000 garages are vacant – and although these sites are small, and hold ‘some barriers to construction’, the council and its partners believe these spaces could be used as ‘solution’ to the ongoing housing crisis.

At present, there are over 2,850 households on the city council's housing list.

While the council is pressing forward with plans for several developments to help ease this wait list, it has been criticised for planning to build on greenfield sites rather than brownfield sites.

Last week Oxford Cohousing, a community group working to create an ‘international village’ with households, decided to stop working with the council, on a development that would see new homes built on green fields in Iffley Village, after stating it would prefer to use a brownfield site.

This Saturday, October 30, between 11am and 2pm the council and its development partners will be holding a drop-in event at the Jack Argent Room in the Blackbird Leys Community Centre.

The event will be an opportunity to identify potential brownfield sites that could be converted, share information about the needs of the neighbourhood and give ideas for the type of housing or community facilities that could be created.

The event will be funded by the Housing Advisers Programme, which will eventually help develop the strategy for reclaiming underused land for affordable and sustainable homes.

The project will then create a ‘long list’ of potential sites across Oxford, mapping them and subsequently surveying them to test their suitability for housing.

Empty garage sites in Blackbird Leys have been earmarked as a potential site that could make for small-scale developments of several new homes.

By doing this the council aims to not lose any community green space.

The council already came under fire for this earlier this month as protestors met to campaign against 30 new homes, including social housing, on the New Hinksey Playground on Bertie Place, known to locals as 'Bertie Park'.

The council will work with Transition by Design so they can help develop low-carbon designs, with initial plans to create between 15 and 30 low-carbon homes from five garage sites.

The Oxfordshire Community Land Trust aims to ensure that homes created in the future will be permanently affordable and owned by the community.

Councillor Diko Blackings, the cabinet member for affordable housing, housing security, and housing the homeless, said: “Oxford needs homes, but more importantly it needs the right homes.

"Transition by Design and Oxfordshire Community Land Trust are recognised leaders in sustainable developments on difficult sites and working with communities to ensure that these are inclusive and meet the needs of local people.

"Please come to the event, hear about what we’ve been doing and help shape the future of this exciting, innovative project.”

Lucy Warin, who works for Transition by Design, said: “Oxford is in the depths of a housing crisis and a climate emergency.

"As architects and urban designers, we know it’s possible to turn empty garage sites into low carbon, permanently affordable homes for social rent - transforming the infrastructure of a gas-guzzling past into a sustainable future for Blackbird Leys.

"But no one knows what the Leys needs better than those who live there so we’re really excited for folks to come and join us on Saturday to share their thoughts and help figure out whether this is an idea that would work in Blackbird Leys.”