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Oxford housing plan to build ‘upwards’ approved by city council

Plans to build “upwards” for the first time in Oxford city centre in a bid to tackle a major shortage of housing have been approved by the city council.

The new plans will focus on building more homes, including social housing and affordable housing, as building upwards and increasing density could lead to a possible 8,000 new homes in the city centre.

The city council has approved the Oxford Local Plan 2036, ready for a final round of consultation before being submitted to the government inspector next year.

In the past, the council has followed the ‘Carfax Tower rule’ by not granting planning permission for any new buildings exceeding 18.2m in height, but the new plans would allow for five or six storey buildings in the city centre.

The council say that demand for housing in Oxford continues to outstrip capacity in the city centre.

Alex Hollingsworth, board member for planning and transport, said that the city centre can no longer be treated “like an artefact” and some new buildings could potentially enhance the skyline.

He said: “That skyline’s probably the single most famous thing about Oxford, the dreaming spires.

“It would be easy to wrap up the historical core in aspic and turn our home into a monument to the past.

“Oxford’s not about that: we are a future-looking city, and we have to meet that challenge head-on. What we're talking about is protecting it in a different way.”

He added: “A Local Plan needs to respect the city of previous generations while shaping the city of the generations to come. That is what this Local Plan aims to achieve.”

Under the Local Plan, 18 hectares of green belt land will be allocated for housing, 0.02% of its total size.

The plan will also make it easier for organisations like the NHS, Oxfordshire County Council and the universities to build housing for their own staff on their land.

The council says another priority is to reduce traffic and congestion in the city centre and promote walking and cycling and, in-line with this, new developments near shops and public transport routes will be car-free.

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Image credit -vzR


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