An opposition motion for the revision of housing affordability policy has passed at a district council meeting.

During the Cherwell District Council full council meeting on Monday, February 27 a motion brought by Green Councillor Ian Middleton - deputy leader of the official opposition Progressive Oxfordshire Group – calling on the council to consider increasing its requirement for affordable development, received almost unanimous support.

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Mr Middleton’s motion was seconded by Independent Councillor Hannah Banfield and called on the council to increase its requirement for the affordable percentage of all major housing developments from 30 per cent to 50 per cent, to bring it in line with the city council’s policy.

He argued that as Cherwell was working so closely with the city on housing provision in Cherwell, the district council should afford its own residents the same consideration as those in the city.

He also called on the leader to write to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities asking for a review of the definition of affordable housing as well as viability assessments that developers often use to avoid compliance with affordability requirements.

The motion passed with support from all members apart from two Conservatives who abstained.

During the debate Mr Middleton said: “As we all know, the definition of ‘affordability’ is now essentially meaningless, especially in counties like Oxfordshire where the cost of housing, even for a starter home, far outstrips that of average earnings.

“I know families in my ward have been torn apart as a result, with grown children having to move further and further away just to be able to afford a place to live.”

“I have many criticisms of the City Council but their affordability target is one of the best I’ve seen and I’d wholeheartedly endorse it.

“It seems to me that currently we are offering a much better deal to the city dwellers than we are to our own residents.

“I believe that’s inequitable which is why I have proposed we adopt the same level of affordably mix as the city. If we can do it as part of our arrangements with them, why not do it for all developments?

“Why shouldn’t we be giving families in Cherwell the same opportunities as those we are providing for a neighbouring district?

“Why are we not equally concerned about housing need in Cherwell as we are for the city? I don’t want to see any more families divided due to the lack of local affordable housing in their communities.”

“But of course, having a target is only part of the story. We need to ensure we can hold developers to it, which is why I am also asking for a review of the principles behind the definition of affordability and viability.”


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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.

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