More needs to be done to install solar panels on new affordable housing and the council should move away from “resorting” to green spaces, a city councillor has said.

A proposal to build 15 new properties in Headington was approved by the city council’s planning committee on Tuesday.

Oxford City Housing has been granted permission to build a three-storey development on Elizabeth Place.

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Oxford Mail: Picture of where the development will bePicture of where the development will be (Image: Google)

However, the development has been controversial in Headington, with residents complaining on the planning portal that the council was taking away “beautiful green space”.

City councillor and Liberal Democrat group leader Dr Christopher Smowton told the Oxford Mail that it was always “regrettable” when more social housing is achieved “at the expense of public amenity space”.

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Dr Smowton said: “What the council has not been able to figure out how to do is a gradual increase in density where we have existing housing which is why they are resorting to green spaces.”

Oxford Mail: Designs for the 15 propertiesDesigns for the 15 properties (Image: Oxford City Housing)

Dr Smowton said what was the “most glaring shortcoming” about the construction of the 15 new properties was the failure to include solar panels on the roof.

He said: “We’ve given these houses energy efficient heating but we have failed to provide roof top solar for these new homes.

“This was a real missed opportunity as it is much cheaper to install solar when you’re building the houses as opposed to retrofitting at a later date.”

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Dr Smowton said he imagined increased costs were the reason for not including solar, but he said this was “perverse” as they make “huge financial sense for both the council and future tenants”.

City councillor Barbara Coyne, who represents the Headington Hill and Northway ward, said the building had been adjusted at committee stage by being taken down a storey to make it “more amenable to residents”.

Ms Coyne said: “There are substantial areas of green space and playgrounds which are already available in the community and which are not affected by the development.”

Ms Coyne rejected the suggestion this area would become less accessible because of the development.

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She said: “The patch which was affected is underused at present and it will have a community seeding seating place once the works have finished.”

The Headington councillor pointed out that she had met with residents in the area at a meeting and the design had been positively received.

The proposal was first submitted on June 24 last year and includes a commitment to build 46 new bicycle spaces at the site.

An Oxford City Council spokesman said: "The local plan 2036 requires new housing development to go 40% beyond government carbon reduction targets in 2022 building regulations.

"Our housing company OX Place takes a ‘fabric first’ approach to development, with enhanced insulation and air tightness standards.

"This maximises energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions through the way buildings are designed.

"Together with air source heat pumps for heating and hot water, this means OX Place is on track to achieve a 66% improvement on building regulations at Westlands Drive – in excess of our planning requirements.

"As a result, energy consultants have not proposed the use of solar PV panels, though OX Place is exploring the possibility of doing so.

"Our housing company intends to design and build the development so that they can easily be installed in future if it is not viable now."