Oxford City Council to invest £50m in improving housing stock

Oxford City Council will spend over £50 million in retrofitting and improving its council housing stock in accordance with the authority’s Local Plan.

The funding will come from a mixture of council borrowing and government funding, linked to its Clean Growth Strategy.

Oxford City Council has set out an ambition to ensure that all council tenants are living in a property which meets at least the EPC Band C standard by 2030.

The council estimate that 50% of their council homes currently meet or exceed this standard and are carrying out further detailed surveys to target their investment programmes and their strategy reflects Oxford’s need for sustainable, efficient and enduring homes.

At the recent Zero Carbon Oxford Summit, Oxford City Council, along with other stakeholders across the city agreed an ambition to help achieve a zero carbon city by 2040 and retrofitting existing homes is key to realising that.

A report on carbon omissions found that 81% of Oxford’s total come from energy and fuel use in buildings, with the greatest single contributor found to be from residential buildings, contributing to 29% of the total.

The investment follows the council’s commitment to tackle the climate emergency, as well as the Oxford Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change that took place last year.

Assembly members were surprised that the largest proportion of emissions in Oxford came from buildings and there was a perceived need for a balanced approach to decreasing emissions from buildings, while simultaneously working to resolve the current affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Oxford.

The £50m of planned capital investment is on top of over £7m additional spend on reducing carbon emissions over the next four years in order to tackle the climate emergency.

Retrofitting council housing will include a range of innovative insulation solutions and fitting ground/air source heat pumps in council stock, as the council makes the transition away from gas boilers.

Commenting, Oxford City Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, Councillor Tom Hayes said: “Oxford can't deal with our carbon problem until we deal with our buildings emissions problem and the city council will play a leading role.

“Despite the impacts of the pandemic on our council’s finances, we will be making huge investments in our 7,800 council homes. We want to work with tenants to make their homes more energy efficient, reduce emissions and save them money. By showing leadership, we want private landlords and homeowners to join with us in making retrofitting investments in their own homes.”

Councillor Mike Rowley, Oxford City Council’s Cabinet Member for Affordable Housing added: “Our homes are essential for a successful society. They provide shelter and a safe space for us. But those homes need to be fit for purpose. They need to be ready for the challenges we face over the coming decades.

“We will lead the way in retrofitting our council housing stock to create better environments for people and we will work with our tenants every step of the way. The measures being implemented will see tenants benefitting from lower energy bills. This will be supported by our ongoing commitment to developing further homes for the Oxford community by way of Oxford City Housing Limited.”

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