WORK can now start on Oxford’s last major housing scheme, with a deal signed to build the final phase of the 885-home Barton Park.

More than 400 more homes will be built at the site, beside the A40 between Headington and Marston. Oxford City Council says 176 of the new properties – 40 per cent – will be rented out by the authority as social housing. This is in line with the development as a whole. Rents are expected to be 40 per cent of the full rental value.

The development is a joint venture between the city council and land developer Grosvenor. This week’s deal sees Countryside Housebuilding appointed to carry out the work. The developer will submit an application this year to build up to 441 homes.

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Countryside will be the third housebuilder delivering homes at Barton Park alongside Hill and Redrow. Hill has nearly completed the first phase of construction known as Mosaics, while Redrow is currently building 207 new homes in a phase called The Steeples.

The council insists this is the final large parcel of land within its boundaries which can be developed. However, land on the city’s fringe which falls within other districts – particularly Cherwell, Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire – have been earmarked for housebuilding.

The new community at Barton Park is continuing to take shape, with more than 200 households living on site, with a sports pavilion, sports pitch ad park already open. A primary school opened in 2020, serving families in Barton Park and neighbouring Barton.

The new phase of construction will add space for local shops including a convenience food store.

Barton Park has been shaped to encourage active lifestyles and address longstanding health inequalities in what has been one of the least affluent areas of the city. It is one of 10 demonstrator sites for the NHS Healthy New Towns programme which was set up to show how better places can support healthier living. Outdoor exercise, walking and cycling are being encouraged.

Alex Hollingsworth, the city council’s cabinet member for planning and housing delivery, said: “Oxford needs homes. High demand and scarce availability mean that Oxford is one of the least affordable place for housing in the UK. Barton Park will provide 885 much needed new homes, including 354 council homes, but this is one of the last big development sites left within our city boundaries.

“Key workers have been priced out of the city, many people live in overcrowded conditions and there are nearly 3,000 households on our housing waiting list. Local businesses and public services face a crisis in recruiting and retaining staff, and more than half of people who work in Oxford live outside the city and face lengthy commutes on overcrowded roads every day.

“To help deliver the homes Oxford needs, we set up our housing company, Oxford City Housing Ltd, which will build nearly 1,900 new homes in and around Oxford in the next 10 years.

“Together with the 354 council homes being built at Barton Park, OCHL’s development programme will see a new generation of more than 1,100 genuinely affordable new council homes. And OCHL’s expertise will unlock difficult sites that purely commercial developers would be unable to do while meeting our requirements for affordable homes. But more is needed.”

thisisoxfordshire: New homes in phase one at Barton Park - credit to Hill

He added: “We can’t tackle Oxford’s housing crisis on our own. Our Local Plan enables large employers like the NHS and universities to build affordable homes for their workers, and we’ll be working closely with housing associations to deliver affordable homes more quickly. Most importantly, we’re working with our neighbouring councils to build more than 14,000 new homes on sites as close to Oxford as possible.”

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Louisa Nie, senior development manager, Strategic Land, at Grosvenor said: “With Countryside now on board, Grosvenor and Oxford City Council are on course to realise our vision for Barton Park, with high-quality homes, open space and community facilities serving new and existing residents. By taking a master developer approach, partnering with three housebuilders and funding the infrastructure upfront, we have been able to get new homes for Oxford built quicker while setting a high bar for site-wide design and delivery.”

Andy Barron, managing director of Housebuilding West at Countryside, said: “We’re delighted to be collaborating with Grosvenor and Oxford City Council, and playing a role in the creation of the thriving new neighbourhood at Barton Park.

“Barton Park is a great example of how beneficial partnerships can be in creating new places, and we look forward to bringing our expertise to the neighbourhood to deliver high-quality new homes and retail space.”