Housing

Oxford Backs Plan to Use Empty Buildings as Homeless Shelters

Councillors in Oxford to create temporary shelters in vacant buildings after campaigners occupied old power station

Councillors in Oxford have backed a plan to allow homeless people to use empty buildings in the city as shelters.

It follows the occupation of an abandoned power station owned by Oxford University by the Iffley Open House housing campaign group. The group was handed an Interim Possession Order (IPO) and told to leave the Old Power Station in Osney back in March.

But Green councillor David Thomas was impressed by the spirit of the radical group and came up with his own proposal to make vacant buildings available to homeless people as temporary shelters. Thomas’ motion was backed this week by the city council.

Green councillor David Thomas was impressed by the campaign group, and came up with his own proposal

Councillors will now come up with detailed plans to make use of appropriate empty buildings by September. Liberal Democrat councillor Liz Wade said the bold move would have to be “legally watertight…and safe.”

The Iffley Open House group, which includes about 20 homeless people, have also occupied an empty car showroom, former Italian restaurant and vacant flats in the city over the past year.

The Big Issue has urged central government and local authorities to address Britain’s chronic housing problem by and exploring new ways to refurbish the nation’s derelict buildings. Our Fill ‘Em Up campaign has explored various ways to restore empty homes and landmarks as a way of increasing housing supply.

Back in the winter of 2015, former Manchester United teammates Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs gave permission to a group of around 30 homeless people to stay in the former Manchester Stock Exchange, then awaiting development as a plush hotel.

Photo: Steve Daniels

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Over 80,000 households put at risk of homelessness from no-fault evictions since Tory ban pledge
Renters Reform Bill campaigners call for the end of no-fault evictions
RENTING

Over 80,000 households put at risk of homelessness from no-fault evictions since Tory ban pledge

Dropping leasehold pledge could cost Labour millions of votes, campaigners warn: 'Expect consequences'
Cladding protest in Westminster
Housing

Dropping leasehold pledge could cost Labour millions of votes, campaigners warn: 'Expect consequences'

'It's unforgivable': Michael Gove served 'eviction notice' by protesters over rising homelessness
DLUHC protest by HASL gives Michael Gove eviction notice
Homelessness

'It's unforgivable': Michael Gove served 'eviction notice' by protesters over rising homelessness

Criminal Justice Bill: Plan to criminalise rough sleeping will 'punish people with nowhere to go'
Tents in Brighton for rough sleepers who face being criminalised under the Criminal Justice Bill
Rough sleeping

Criminal Justice Bill: Plan to criminalise rough sleeping will 'punish people with nowhere to go'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know