In March 2017, Oxford City Council received £54,859 from the Community Housing Fund to support the promotion and delivery of more community-led housing.
Oxford City Council commissioned the Collaborative Housing Hub, which is a partnership between Community First Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire Community Foundation and Oxfordshire Community Land Trust, to undertake a research project to explore how community housing could be delivered sustainably within Oxford City. The methods used for this study included a combination of desk research, a needs assessment, interviews, outreach events and financial assessment.
There are viable models which will work in Oxford’s urban fabric from small scale (shared co-operative houses and tiny windfall sites) to large partnership development where citizen-leadership can bring distinct benefits.
Some key recommendations from the report:
- Develop a strategy to enable genuinely affordable community-led approaches in Oxford and promote community-led housing within the Oxfordshire Growth Board and Joint Statutory Spatial Plan.
- Apply to the Community Housing Fund (grant) to provide enabling support within the council for community-led housing schemes that are currently being proposed by groups in Oxford.
- Include support for community-led housing in the Local Plan, housing and tenancy strategies, appoint a Councillor as Oxford’s community-led housing champion, and require larger sites to include a proportion of community-led housing through Section 106 agreements.
- Set up a revolving loan fund that community-led housing groups can access for cheaper finance.
The outreach for this study showed that very few people know about community-led housing solutions despite having many benefits which struck a chord with interviewees and focus groups including genuine affordability in perpetuity, individual well-being and supportive neighbourhoods.
The members of the study team were Dr Sue Brownill, Charlie Fisher and Ron Gibbons (Oxfordshire Community Land Trust), Tom McCulloch and Fiona Mullins (Community First Oxfordshire) and Jayne Woodley (Oxfordshire Community Foundation).
Important contributions to the assessment were made by Oxford City Council, Savills, Transition by Design, Jimm Reed (CoHo Ltd), Stephen Hill (C2O futureplanners), Gauthier Guerin (Catalyst Collective) and Stephen Walker (Oxford Brookes University). Transition by Design provided communication and outreach support for the project.