Councillors are appalled at the waste of the affordable housing option in a new development.

Green and Libdem councillors in Kidlington have been told by Cherwell housing officers that apartments in a new development that were designated as ‘affordable’, have still not been let to people on the housing register, and that it’s unlikely they ever will be.

The development of a large number of apartments in Sterling Road Approach, Kidlington, was opposed by Cherwell District Council (CDC) in 2018 but the developer appealed.

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CDC lost the appeal but gained an agreement from the developer that three of the flats would be let at affordable rents in lieu of the usual developer’s financial contributions normally required as part of a development of this size.

However, the entire apartment block was let to a flying school, Leading Edge Aviation, who it was discovered last year, occupied all the apartments, including those that were supposed to be available to people on the Cherwell housing register.

At the time, the housing department promised that the flats would be let to people on the register this year, but this has not happened.

CDC has an opportunity each year for up to 25 years to offer the affordable units to people on the register.

However, under the agreement’s terms, the council only have a very short window of 28 days to complete the process before the developer is free to let the flats on the open market.

Councillors Ian Middleton and Dorothy Walker have criticised the way the agreement was structures after council officers admitted it “appears likely to effectively exclude most people waiting on the council’s housing register.”

Both councillors are now calling on the council to urgently re-negotiate the deal with the developer.

Mr Middleton said: “It’s galling that not only do we not have these flats available to people in the area who need them, the council is also losing out on the local infrastructure contributions that the developer should have paid.

“The affordable flats were meant to be provided in lieu of those contributions, so we’re effectively paying the developer for affordable flats we’re unable to use.

“That’s a double whammy for local council tax payers and people in desperate need of affordable accommodation.

Ms Walker added: “It is very disappointing that, for the second year since the completion of this block of flats, none of the three social rent units formally agreed to be made available to applicants on Cherwell’s housing register has been allocated.

“We’re in a housing and cost of living emergency – the demand for affordable homes is at an unprecedented level.”


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing:

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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