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Turning empty garages into sustainable new homes

Work has started on an Oxford City Council project to build new low carbon council homes by redeveloping a disused garage site in Blackbird Leys.

The Council’s direct services and housing companies, ODS and OX Place, have teamed up to deliver the project, which will involve the demolition of two vacant garage blocks and the construction of three two-bed houses in Tucker Road.

Once completed, the new homes will be let to people on the housing waiting list. Two will be let at social rent, with the third let at affordable rent.

Social rent is calculated with reference to the size and value of a home and average regional incomes. In Oxford, this is typically around 40% of equivalent private rents.

While the government has defined affordable rent as up to 80% of an equivalent private rent, the Council’s tenancy strategy bases it on local housing allowance (LHA) levels. For council tenants, affordable rent is around 60-65% of the rent a private tenant would pay.

The demolition of the garage blocks and hardstanding will be completed this week. Completion is scheduled for August 2023.

Sustainable development, sustainable living

ODS will build the new homes using timber frame construction, which means creating large panels of buildings in a factory before being transported to site to be assembled. Timber frame construction is faster, uses less energy and results in less waste to landfill than traditional builds.

Enhanced building fabric and air tightness standards, together with the use of solar panels and air source heat pumps, means that the new homes will be very energy efficient.

Regulated energy use – that is, space and hot water heating, lighting and ventilation – will be zero carbon and overall the homes will go around 100% beyond carbon reduction requirements in 2013 building regulations.

All three homes will be built to the Lifetime Homes standard, which means they will be fully adaptable to cope with people’s changing needs throughout their lives.

Tucker Road was designed by Oxford Architects and is being supported by £150,000 in funding from the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, cabinet member for planning and housing delivery, said:

“It’s great to see ODS and OX Place joining forces to reclaim a disused corner of Oxford and turn it into much needed new homes. Tucker Road is an exemplar of the kind of innovative thinking we need to tackle our housing crisis.”

Simon Howick, managing director, ODS, said:

“We’re proud to be teaming up with OX Place to work on this project and build low carbon, affordable homes for the Council. The Tucker Road project is a great fit with ODS’ mission to be a different type of business – one that creates a more inclusive and sustainable economy, balancing purpose and profit for the greater good.”

Helen Horne, managing director, OX Place, said:

“OX Place's commitment to affordable housing and using innovative construction methods means we’re able to unlock small or hard to develop sites like the Tucker Road garages to provide the homes that Oxford so badly needs.”