Oxford United’s plans to build a new stadium at Stratfield Brake, Kidlington look set to move forward.
Oxfordshire County Council’s (OCC) cabinet meets on March 15 to decide whether to open negotiations with the club on plans to lease the 18-hectare Green Belt site for 250 years. Officers have recommended councillors to vote in favour.
In addition to the new stadium, the club’s proposal includes a hotel, retail units, conference and training facilities, and community spaces.
A total of 3,740 people responded to a public engagement exercise.
Key detail includes:
- Eighty per cent of respondents were in favour of the county council entering into discussions with the football club (18 per cent were not and two per cent were not sure).
- Of the 2,910 people who said they were Oxford United supporters, 93 per cent were in favour, six per cent were against and one per cent were not sure.
- Of the 783 respondents who said they were not Oxford United supporters, 63 per cent said the council should not enter discussions, 33 per cent said the council should, and four per cent were not sure.
- Of the 818 local residents who responded, 58 per cent were against discussions taking place, 38 per cent were in favour and four per cent were not sure.
Officers have set out six objectives as a basis for recommending councillors move forward with the plan.
- Maintaining a green barrier between Oxford and Kidlington and improving access to nature and green spaces
- Enhancing facilities for local sports groups and ongoing financial support
- Significantly improving the infrastructure connectivity in the location, including public transport and to improve sustainable transport through increased walking, cycling and rail use
- Developing local employment opportunities in Oxfordshire
- Increasing education and innovation through the provision of a sports centre of excellence and facilities linked to elite sport, community sport, health and wellbeing
- Supporting the county council’s net zero carbon emissions pledge through highly sustainable development.
Cllr Calum Miller, cabinet member for finance, said: “This is a very significant proposal. There are implications for the people of Oxfordshire in general and residents of Kidlington, Gosford and Water Eaton in particular, as well as for the environment, the wider economy and the future of the county’s only professional football club.
“Very careful consideration will be given at our cabinet to the results of the public engagement exercise. I am grateful to the very large number of people who took part.
“In January it was clear that many local residents and interested individuals and organisations wanted more time to consider the idea of a stadium at this location and to share their views with the county council.
“The Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance is committed to participatory, open and transparent decision-making.
“Rather than rushing into a decision we asked officers to run a four-week public engagement exercise so that we could hear the views of those who care about this proposal.
“We now have the results of that exercise and there is a great deal of rich information. This includes feedback on the key subject of the objectives the council should set out to achieve should a decision ultimately be approved to enter discussions as well as the concerns of those who think discussions should not take place. I look forward to discussing this with fellow cabinet members at our meeting on Tuesday, March 15.”
In a statement, the football club said: “We are delighted that officers are recommending that Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet authorise permission to negotiate an In Principle Agreement with the club at their meeting on the March 15.
“We strongly believe that our aspirations for the site can not only meet, but significantly exceed the priorities of Oxfordshire’s Fair Deal Alliance and this decision will form an important first step in securing the future of a much-loved community asset, one that is anchored in the heart of Oxfordshire’s sporting and cultural legacy.
“We wish to thank our fans, local residents and stakeholders for participating in what was a far reaching and through consultation. Whilst support amongst the fanbase could be argued to be expected, it is worth noting that over a third of residents directly local to the proposed site who participated in the consultation also expressed their support.
“The club thanks all who responded to the consultation and looks forward to directly addressing points raised as we work through the next steps of the process, including as part of the eventual pre-application consultation process.
“As we have stated before, should cabinet choose to move forward with their officers’ recommendation, this is merely the first step in a long road, and we look forward to working in tandem with our fans, local residents and community stakeholders to bring forward our proposals in a manner which matches our aspirations for the club whilst also minimises any potential impact to local residents.”
The plan for the new stadium will subsequently need to be subject of a planning application to Cherwell District Council. The club’s current lease at the Kassam Stadium runs out in 2026.
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