THE leader of the city council has said she is ‘concerned’ over the amount of affordable housing that might be built at a key £500m city project.

Susan Brown said she wanted ‘as much affordable housing as possible’ built at Oxford North, one of the most important developments in the city for decades.

The project will be built by Thomas White Oxford (TWO), the development company of St John’s College, Oxford, on land of north of Wolvercote.

TWO has said it could provide 480 new homes for about 1,500 people and employment space for 4,500 jobs.

It has said either 25 per cent or 30 per cent of the new homes at the site will be designated as affordable. That is between 120 and 144 of the eventual 480 homes.

TWO said it cannot afford to build a higher proportion because it must also pay for infrastructure – like utilities and public spaces – for future residents and workers.

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The city council wants half of all new homes to be affordable at major sites.

Ms Brown said: “I am still somewhat concerned. We are conscious this is a big site and there is clearly a lot of public money going in to support it.

“We would certainly hope to see as much affordable housing on the site as possible.”

She said the planning process will also need to be completed to see how much affordable housing TWO can be expected to build.

But she appealed to St John’s College to ensure there was housing its own staff could afford in a city where average property prices are amongst the country’s highest.

Ms Brown added: “In Oxford we would think they would be able to recognise that this is their workforce…and people who keep their colleges going whether they’re teaching or catering or cleaning. People need houses and we need people to be able to afford to live in Oxford.”

A £25m hotel is also pencilled into TWO’s plans, along with a community centre, new roads and access to and from the nearby A40 and A44.

It said the development will contribute about £150m to the city’s economy every year.

A TWO spokeswoman said: “In seeking to realise the vision for Oxford North, TWO believes we must improve the infrastructure around Oxford North as part of the scheme.

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“It has always been TWO’s stated intention to provide a level of affordable housing of at least 25 per cent. The limit to providing more is simply the substantial cost of investment into power, utilities, and public space, alongside the infrastructure improvements to the A40 and A44 that people who live and travel in the area know are vital, and for which public funding support is now available.”

The spokeswoman added: “Following the viability appraisal process, we are able to provide both the infrastructure improvements and an affordable housing level of up to 30 per cent showing how far TWO is prepared to go to support the city’s vision for this site, and for Oxford generally, and delivering up to 144 much-needed affordable new homes.”

Other parts of the schemes include the Red Hall, which has been described as its ‘centrepiece’.

That is said to be designed as ‘an adaptable hub and incubator for start-ups, freelancers and entrepreneurs to be a shared amenity allowing up to 300 people to work collaboratively.’

Last year, a model of it was put on display at the Royal Academy of Arts’ 250th Summer Exhibition.

About six miles of new cycle paths are set to be included in Oxford North. Other assets will include a nursery and a performance space.