Key sites deal in the pipeline

Oxfordshire County Council has agreed to sell four sites in Banbury and another four in Bicester to the district council so they can be transformed into supported and affordable housing. Several of the sites have been vacant for many years and have attracted attention from members of the public as to their future purposes.

Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for property, Cllr Kieron Mallon said: “This is a fantastic deal for both towns and also both councils.

“Cherwell will be providing low cost housing within the district and Oxfordshire County Council will have some nomination rights to ensure that those people with disabilities or special housing needs are catered for.

“The deal also supports the regeneration plans that both authorities have for the towns of Banbury and Bicester.”

The cost of the deal is still being finalised, however both authorities are set to benefit from the sale. Oxfordshire County Council will receive payment for the buildings and will no longer have to pay to maintain vacant buildings. And Cherwell will realise its ambition to improve the sites so that they are in keeping with the overall regeneration plans for both town centres.

The following sites will be sold as part of the deal. Subject to planning consent, all will form part of Cherwell’s Build! project which encourages people to play a part in building their own homes in exchange for cheaper rents or sale prices:

• Orchard Lodge (former care home): A mixture of service plots which will be finished to a ‘shell’ standard for completion (number to be confirmed).
• Calthorpe House, Calthorpe Road, (former offices): A mixture of retail units on the ground floor with 13 x one and two bedroom flats above.
• Broughton Road (former Connexions office): Development to be confirmed.
• Lincoln House (former care home): A mixture of one and two bedroom flats (number to be confirmed).

• Land at Coach House Mews, off London Road (former highways depot): A mixture of 40 one and two bedroom flats
• St. Edburg’s (former care home): A mixture of houses and flats (number to be confirmed)
• Old Place Yard (former offices): A mixture of houses and flats (number to be confirmed)
• Library building: A mixture of houses and flats, subject to a new library being completed as part of the Bicester Town Centre redevelopment

Cllr Debbie Pickford, lead member for housing at Cherwell, said: “Anyone who lives in Banbury or Bicester will immediately recognise these sites as they are prime locations within the town centres. This deal between Cherwell District and Oxfordshire County Councils is not only great news for the two local authorities, but for the residents of both areas. The purchase of the sites will allow Cherwell to transform existing, vacant eyesores into affordable housing opportunities in key locations for residents in the district. Soon these sites will become the focus of attention for all of the right reasons.

"I would like to thank everyone at both councils for working together in partnership to provide the best deal for our residents. It is a win-win situation for both Oxfordshire County and Cherwell District Councils and shows just what can be achieved by working together."

Work is expected to begin on some of the sites later this year, subject to the necessary planning consents being obtained. It is hoped work will be completed across all sites by March 2015.

Members of the Build! team will be holding events where people can formally express an interest in taking part in the scheme. Alternatively people can sign up or get more information by emailing build@cherwell-dc.gov.uk or complete a registration form online by going to www.cherwell.gov.uk and searching Build! To phone, call 01295 221615.