A year after public engagement took place over plans for a new stadium for Oxford United, an adjacent site is now under consideration.
Oxfordshire County Council and the club have been in discussion since late 2021 about leasing council-owned land for an 18,000-seat stadium and a site at Stratfield Brake in Kidlington was proposed.
Now an alternative OCC-owned site, a triangular parcel directly south of Kidlington roundabout, east of the A4260 Frieze Way (see image), has been put forward after objections to building at Stratfield Brake which is in the Green Belt. Both sites fall within Cherwell District Council which would be the relevant planning authority.
Now a decision on whether formal negotiations between OCC and the club is due to be made at the county council’s January 24 cabinet meeting.
The club’s current lease at the Kassam Stadium (pictured below) expires in 2026 which has forced the move. The newly proposed site is even closer to Oxford Parkway station and its park & ride than the neighbouring Stratfield Brake site.
In a statement, council leader Cllr Liz Leffman said: “Earlier this year we ran a public engagement exercise to better understand the opportunities and concerns relating to the stadium proposal.
“More than 3,700 people responded from across the county and beyond. Overall, a strong majority expressed support for us to begin discussions with the club. However, a majority of local residents expressed reservations.
“We listened to the many points raised during our engagement exercise and began exploratory discussions with the club with clear principles in mind. These include maintaining a green barrier between Oxford and Kidlington, improving public access to high-quality green spaces, enhancing facilities for local sports groups, developing local employment opportunities and increasing education opportunities for our young people.
“Any development must have a positive impact on the lives of people in Oxfordshire both in this specific locality and beyond – it needs to bring improvements that will benefit residents in years to come.
“We listened carefully to feedback from local residents and have taken account of the concerns they raised. The alternative site is separated from Kidlington and Gosford by two major roads, while the current leasing arrangement means its use would not impact community sports facilities or access to Stratfield Brake as a community amenity.
“The new site also has the advantage of being close to Oxford Parkway railway station and the park and ride, which would enable greater walking, cycling, bus and rail use among fans. We are, however, very mindful that – like Stratfield Brake − the site is in the Green Belt.
“As the county‘s only professional Football League club, we know that Oxford United is close to the hearts of thousands of people across this county. The club has a long and distinguished history and is an integral part of the county’s heritage and presence.
“We fully recognise the challenges facing OUFC and we are doing everything we can to help them achieve a long-term home in the county and a sustainable future.
“Our officers are reviewing all the information and the responses received and will be making a clear recommendation to cabinet about whether or not to enter into formal negotiations with the club about the potential use of land for the development of a stadium.
“The cabinet will now debate this on 24 January and decide whether they agree with the recommendation from officers. If the cabinet decides to enter formal negotiations with OUFC, any final proposal by the club would then need to be put through the planning process at Cherwell District Council, which provides further opportunities for the public to provide their views before elected members take a decision.”
A statement from the club said: “Oxford United continues to consider any viable site for their proposed new stadium and can confirm that the club are in preliminary discussions regarding a potential alternative site for their proposed new stadium, located at the land to the east of Frieze Way / South of Kidlington roundabout.
“Our search for a new home has been well publicised and given the pressing need for securing a sustainable future home, it is important and right that the club do not rule out any alternative sites at this stage.
“The discussions are at a very early stage, so we cannot confirm any details but any site will remain subject to contractual negotiations, obtaining planning permissions and the relevant statutory consents. We also remain committed to extensive consultation with the local community in the new year.
“The club will continue to explore all options available to provide a long-term and sustainable future home that benefits both the club and our local community. Given the dwindling timeframe available to us and the interest from fans, local residents and the wider Oxfordshire community, it is imperative that a decision about a preferred site is resolved as soon as possible.”
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