Oxford

Oxford University plans 2,000 new homes in and around city

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Image caption Oxford University says more affordable housing is needed

Thousands of homes could be built for Oxford University staff and students as part of a £4bn building project.

Legal & General is providing Oxford University with funding over 10 years towards 1,000 homes for staff and 1,000 units of accommodation for students.

Science and innovation districts in and around the city are also included in the proposal.

But environmental campaigners have criticised the plans for using green belt land.

Professor Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor at the university, said the project, which is subject to planning permission, would "address some of the most pressing challenges facing the university".

She added: "We will build much-needed graduate accommodation, subsidised housing for university staff, and new science parks where academic departments, university spin-outs and commercial partners can work together to create new companies as well as high quality jobs."

The university says more affordable residential and commercial space is needed if it is going to attract the world's best researchers and students.

Projects include:

  • The redevelopment of graduate student accommodation in Wellington Square, Court Place Gardens and Ewert House
  • New graduate student accommodation in Osney Mead
  • New science parks in Osney Mead and Begbroke
  • About 1,000 subsidised rented homes for university and college staff in Begbroke

Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal & General Group, said the partnership was part of a long-term investment in Oxford and a "terrific example for cities across the globe to follow".

Helen Marshall, director of Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Oxfordshire, said it was "entirely premature" to be talking about building on the green belt where "development would risk local villages being swamped by city expansion".

When asked about the proposals for Begbroke, a Cherwell District Council spokesman said: "The council will of course want to ensure that any proposed development meets the highest standards possible in respect of design and environmental quality.

"It will also consider whether the proposed locations of new development meet its overarching priorities to deliver the right homes in the right places."

The council's local plan already includes proposals to build houses near Begbroke Science Park, including some for students and university staff, but it is awaiting a report by the planning inspector.

Mary Clarkson, cabinet member for culture and city centre at Oxford City Council, said: "This won't just benefit students and help ensure the university maintains its global leading position; it will also benefit the wider city.

"Our new local plan is proposing measures that enable the university to build housing for staff on key sites to help with recruitment and retention given the affordability pressures in the city and will also help them to bring forward new student accommodation to take pressure off the general housing stock."

Oxford University also announced that the Bodleian book storage facility in Swindon will be doubled in size as part of its plans.

It currently stores about eight million books.

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