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Blenheim Estate Homes Warns Council’s U-Turn Will Put Radical Affordable Homes Model at Risk

A radical new way to provide more than 200 truly affordable homes in Woodstock is at risk after Cherwell District Council opted to remove it from their Local Plan.

Under the proposed East Woodstock development, known as PR-10, 205 homes would be available as long-term rental properties at up to 40% below local market rates, compared to current guidelines that recommend just 20% discount.

The development by Blenheim Estate Homes had initially been supported by the Council but was subsequently removed from the Plan on the suggestion of the Planning Inspector.

Instead the Council is now looking at an alternative proposal which would mean further loss of the Green Belt land and, although affordable housing will still be delivered, it will not be truly affordable in the same way the new Blenheim model provides.

“We remain baffled and disappointed by the Council’s apparent U-turn at a time when the lack of truly affordable homes for local people in one of the country’s most unaffordable locations is reaching crisis levels,” said Roger File, Property Director of Blenheim Estate Homes.

“It seems even more out of step in light of the comments made by the chancellor in his budget speech when he described affordable housing as the government’s second highest priority after investment in public services.

“Our proposal does not involve building on the Green Belt and offers a revolutionary new model where we maintain ownership and management of the properties guaranteeing they remain affordable over the long term,” he added.

By retaining ownership of the properties and managing them directly as part of their existing operations, Blenheim Estate Homes is able to widen the affordable offer on their developments.

Under their model, as well as truly affordable rents, shared ownership homes are also available for part buy and part rent with the aim of keeping all their affordable homes affordable in perpetuity.

“We are asking Cherwell District Council and individual councillors to follow West Oxfordshire’s lead and urgently re-consider their position and demonstrate their commitment to genuine affordable housing opportunities by supporting this development,” said Roger.

“Our proposal is innovative, achievable and provides a long-term solution. We are committed to delivering a high quality, sustainable and sympathetic development that will continue to benefit the local community for many decades to come,” he added.