The event, which was organised by WODC and took place at Blenheim Palace, attracted interest from across the south east including representatives of district, city and county councils, universities, landowners, housing associations, property professionals and community interest organisations.
As part of the seminar, academics Sue Brownill and Margo Socha from Oxford Brookes University presented findings from a new joint study, undertaken by the University’s School of the Built Environment and WODC, on our new approach to providing affordable homes.
Our Head of Property and Development, Matthew Neilson, spoke to outline our purpose and legacy principles:
“The Blenheim-WODC approach has at its core a recognition of the significance of land and landownership in delivering affordable housing and building strong communities and local economies,” said Matthew.
“Blenheim has an absolute commitment to provide high quality, affordable properties for local people which will enable young families to remain and work within the local community.
“Developments like our sites Hanborough Gate and Park View are specifically designed to address the long-term issue of lack of housing within West Oxfordshire, and are part of our stated goal to build 300 truly affordable homes.”
The Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, Cllr James Mills, emphasised the critical importance of finding new ways to approach a long standing issue, saying: “It is essential that we act together as disruptors to the status quo – if West Oxfordshire is going to meet its potential we need to be able to offer good quality, affordable homes and if planners, house builders and landowners don’t try to find different ways to deliver this we won’t achieve that ambition. I’m delighted that the event showed a real enthusiasm from such a range of stakeholders to take brave steps in just that direction.”
Typically, affordable rental properties are let at a 20% discount to market rent, but together with WODC, we have devised a model that enables discounts up to 40% of the current market rent to be offered to tenants.The approach is based on the landowner retaining ownership of land and properties to widen the affordable offer on the development.
This means that Blenheim can provide and manage affordable homes efficiently and without subsidy as part of our existing operations.
As well as truly affordable rents, shared ownership homes are available for part-buy and part-rent.
“The feedback from the seminar was extremely positive and we’re confident many other landowners across the UK will adopt our approach to providing truly affordable, long term and high quality housing,” said Matthew.
WODC is also exploring the potential of applying the same model to other sites in partnership with key landowners in West Oxfordshire.
To find out more about our Affordable Homes, click here.