Needed housing approved in Norwich

With the inventory of new homes dwindling across the region, Oxford County council didn’t have any qualms about endorsing the second stage of a Norwich subdivision that will bring 27 new houses to the village.

“It’s more housing and we need housing all over Oxford County and Southwestern Ontario,”  said Oxford Warden Larry Martin. “There’s all kinds of demand (for housing) all over the county.

Part of the Norwich Meadows subdivision, the development will sit on about two hectares of land south of Main Street West and west of Stover Street South in the new areas of Dennis and Delong drives and Pollard Street.

Neil Krushel, president of the Woodstock-Ingersoll and District Real Estate Board, said the additional housing is promising and desperately needed for the region.

“We welcome more housing. Oxford has an amazingly low vacancy rate and, on top of that, a lot of the prices we’re seeing right now have to do with a supply issue,” he said. “It makes a huge difference to add more housing.”

A report to Oxford County council last August showed the vacancy rate in the county was 2.6 per cent while the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment sits at $908 a month, according to the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation.

County council heard from a report earlier this month that forecasted a population increase as high as 41 per cent by 2046 to about 160,000. Last year also saw a record amount of construction in Woodstock at $213 million.

Statistics from the Woodstock-Ingersoll and District Real Estate Board show the average price of homes sold between January and March hovering at $390,000. The numbers also showed 254 active residential listings at the end of March – or about two-and-a-half months of supply – making it a seller’s market.

Though Oxford currently has a low housing inventory, Krushel said it also makes it promising for developers since they know what they build will sell.

He noted the region has seen an influx in the past three or four years of people coming to Oxford County.

The proximity of Woodstock to larger population centres such as London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and Guelph, along with tconvergence of two 400-series highways, make Oxford an ideal spot for commuters.

“We’re fortunate of where we’re stationed. We get a lot of couples where one works in London and the other is in Kitchener-Waterloo. It can be a happy medium for families,” Krushel said. “Toronto people ‘drive until they qualify’ because of how expensive it is (in the Greater Toronto Area). They leave the (Greater Toronto Area) in any direction until they can afford something. We’re on the outer limits. … We seem to be on the cusp of it.

“It’s fantastic for our economy, but it does make it so people looking to buy their first homes in Oxford can run into a bit of a stumbling block because there’s such a low inventory.”

Under builder BGS Homes’ website, the project is also listed as Oxford Camelot and is set to be built in three phases, with the first already completed. The subdivision was originally approved in September 1997 and received extensions, with the first 51 lots finally registered in March 2009. The remaining 61 lots of the second phase lapsed.

The plan was approved again in November 2011, but setbacks saw them get extensions until the plan again lapsed in November 2016. The developers had to return to council for another vote of approval.