TEN million pounds will be used to help get a huge housing development on the northern edge of Oxford off the ground.

Oxford City Council's cabinet, its most senior councillors, agreed on Wednesday (September 9) to sign an agreement for £10m of Government funding which will help build Oxford North.

The 480-home estate is set to be built on a triangle of land between the A40, A44 and A34 north of Wolvercote, after developer Thomas White Oxford (TWO) was given planning permission at the end of last year.

The council's leader, Susan Brown, said the extra money from Homes England would help to 'maximise' the number of affordable homes at the site.

To allow TWO, a property company owned by St John's College, to build 'early infrastructure' at the site, Oxford City Council plans to loan it the £10m.

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This, it is hoped, will allow access roads, water and electrical connections, or other preparations to take place ahead of housebuilding.

The aim is to take some of the risk of the £500m development away from the developer.

A council document full of technical language explaining how the money would be recovered suggests some of it may not need to be repaid if Oxford North proves to be less viable -- that is, less likely to make money -- than expected.

It also adds that any money which is paid back would be reinvested in adding more affordable homes to the estate.


A CGI image of the 'Red Barn', an office block planned for Oxford North. Picture: TWO

A similar but separate agreement already exists between TWO and Oxford City Council, under which the developer has promised to increase the number of affordable homes on the site if it makes a higher than expected profit.

Under the agreement, Oxford North has a lower threshold of 35 per cent affordable homes, below the city council's usual requirement of 50 per cent.

But this could be increased if TWO sells the market rate houses for a higher than expected price.

Because both agreements rely on profit from the development, the earlier contract to increase the number of affordable homes if possible would be prioritised.

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City council leader Susan Brown said: "The important thing about this report is it is about trying to maximise the amount of affordable housing on this site through whatever means possible."

TWO has claimed that the site will also provide as many as 4,800 new jobs for Oxford, alongside the 480 homes, which could house 1,500 people.

There are also plans for shops, bars and restaurants, a hotel and offices at the site.

TWO started searching for companies which could help it build Oxford North in March, to prepare for construction after coronavirus restrictions lifted.