Affordable housing grant to help address urgent need
More affordable, energy efficient homes will be built in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse thanks to a new improved grant process.
As part of the district councils’ work to help meet the urgent need for genuinely affordable housing in the region, local developers, Community Land Trusts and self-builders can apply for a Section 106 affordable housing grant to build affordable homes that meet the councils’ climate criteria.
Both councils approved an improvement to the existing affordable housing policy* to enable funds from Section 106 developer contributions to be used as a grant to build affordable homes that are energy efficient and cheaper for residents to live in and heat. The policy includes a revamped application process which includes clear evaluation guidelines and free expert consultation services for applicants who would like additional guidance.
The new application form now includes questions which determine how projects will minimise energy use and carbon emissions, as well as how they have identified locally appropriate species and set up long term management plans if they are adding tree planting and biodiversity improvements. These are necessary to help achieve the Corporate Plan objectives of both councils to take action to tackle the climate emergency and South Oxfordshire’s to also ‘protect and restore our natural world’.
In South Oxfordshire, Section 106 developer contributions have previously been provided to the Henley and District Housing Trust to develop properties for social rent and to fit solar panels to reduce their carbon footprint.
Meanwhile, Section 106 developer contributions have been given to the Oxfordshire Community Land Trust to develop affordable homes at Dean Court, near Cumnor in the Vale. The property design looked to achieve high levels of insulation, near PassivHaus standard, to minimise energy bills for residents. It is in a sustainable location serviced by regular and fast public transport connections to and from Oxford City Centre and bike racks provided on site.
Cllr Sue Caul – Cabinet Member for Affordable Housing, Infrastructure, Development and Governance at Vale of White Horse District Council, said “We’re doing everything within our power to address the challenge of living in one of the least affordable areas of the country. We encourage local developers, Community Land Trusts and self-builders to contact us if they need advice on the process so we can work together to help provide the affordable homes that residents need.”
Cllr Robin Bennett – Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “It’s essential that residents of South Oxfordshire have genuinely affordable, good quality homes available that are efficient to run and heat. Opening up this new, more efficient grant process, with clearer guidelines, will make it easier for us to assess the environmental sustainability of proposed homes ensuring residents benefit into the future.”
*The current affordable policy is on our district council affordable housing pages and the updated policy will be available shortly.
More about Section 106 developer contributions
We use Section 106 (S106) agreements to raise money for infrastructure to support new housing developments, such as transport or environmental improvements.
We draw up a S106 agreement before we grant planning permission for a new development, so the developer is legally bound to deliver the infrastructure we’ve agreed. Money is collected from the developer once the planning permission is implemented and when certain points in the agreement have been met.
More about Passivhaus
Passivhaus, refers to buildings created to rigorous energy efficient design standards so that they maintain an almost constant temperature. Passivhaus buildings are constructed, insulated and ventilated so they retain heat from the sun and the activities of their occupants, requiring very little additional heating or cooling.