Calls for more affordable housing in Oxfordshire

Homeless young people in Oxfordshire are struggling because there is not enough "affordable" housing, according to an industry expert.

Stewart Lilley, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents, said Oxfordshire councils did not want to give housing planning permission.

He said parish councillors did not want affordable housing developments.

However, a councillor from the Vale of the White Horse said 40% of new housing in his area was affordable.

Mr Lilley, who lives in Wantage, made the comments as a Banbury homeless centre held an open day on Saturday.

Planning permission

Mr Lilley said: "It's down to the local authority, in not allowing enough planning permission through the planning system.

"I was involved in an Oxfordshire parish council a few years ago, and I said there was a need for affordable housing around here.

"A parish chairman turned round to me and said we're not the sort of village who welcomes affordable housing".

However, Councillor Robert Sharp, who is chairman of the planning committee for the Vale of the White Horse, said his authority asked for a high percentage of all housing to be affordable.

He said: "For new developments of more than 15 houses, developers must provide 40% affordable housing to get planning permission.

"We have also had some rural exception policy homes built in Shrivenham and Kingston Bagpuize, which are all affordable and only available to people who live locally."

Mr Sharp said although parish councillors might object to developments, the district council, which makes the decision, had a clear policy on affordable housing.

'Tough out there'

Charity BYHP has recently opened a new youth and community centre in Grimsbury, near Banbury.

Chief executive Clare Norton said it was "easy" for young people to become homeless.

She said often it was due to overcrowding in family homes, or parents' "expectations" that their children should leave home at 16.

"Parents may have an expectation because they left home at 16, their children will do the same thing, leave home, get a job and a flat.

"And it's really tough out there, rents are high and there's not so many jobs and opportunities out there."

Affordable housing includes shared equity housing or housing for sale or rent below market rates, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market.

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