RSS Feed

David Mason discusses land, homes and net zero carbon with Property Week

David MasonThe Diocese of Oxford is one of the largest dioceses within the Church of England, with about 4,000 acres of land in its possession, and over 400 clergy houses. As Head of Capital Transactions, and former Director of Property, David has been responsible for identifying opportunities to develop the land in a way that provides a sustainable income for the diocese, while also benefitting local communities. He is particularly committed to working with stakeholders and partners to provide more affordable homes across the three counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. 

“We are passionate about delivering affordable housing – specifically social rented affordable housing – so we are meeting the needs of those who really can’t afford their own accommodation, including those struggling with rent costs these days.”

However, this is challenging within a Church of England context, often with extra layers of ecclesiastical legislation alongside normal planning law. And plans often meet with local resistance, as people question the role of the diocese – and the wider church – in this space. 

“People often ask why the church is playing the role of developer. And then there is the fact a lot of villages resist this sort of provision; they don’t want it in their backyard. Their perception is that the worst of society are going to be moved into their community. But from our perspective that is not the case.” 

Projects already underway include plans to deliver 280 homes in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, and 75 homes in Waddesdon. These are places where older people may be struggling to afford the costs needed to stay in their village, and where young people cannot afford to get on the property ladder. 

“In Haddenham, we are using this land to provide more affordable housing than the local authority requires in planning policy, and also age-restricted bungalows, specifically to enable the older people in Haddenham to remain in their beloved village.”
This work runs alongside diocesan efforts to achieve net zero carbon by 2035. David is working alongside the new Director of Property, Sophie Orme, who is managing a £10 million project to support the vicarages achieve net zero. The project has completed its first full retrofit trial and will be expanding the learnings in the next phase. And the Environment Action Team and Church Buildings Team are collaborating to support the Diocese’s 800 churches to do the same.

•   over 230 churches so far have benefited from an energy audit programme giving them pathways to net zero
•   189 churches are also registered as an A Rocha Eco Church, including 57 that have achieved a bronze award, and 20 that have achieved silver
•   This enabled the whole Diocese to become a Bronze Eco Diocese in July 2023.

Read the full article in Property Week

Find out more about our £10 million investment in vicarages, and work to support parishes. 

Page last updated: Friday 29th September 2023 9:10 AM
Powered by Church Edit