The County Council have set out objectives for the club to meet before moving to planning.
Negotiations can begin between the County Council and Oxford United, to outline legal and commercial terms relating to the club’s proposal to lease land known as ‘The Triangle’ for the development of a new 18,000 capacity stadium.
At a cabinet meeting this afternoon, councillors said they had been inundated with emails from residents regarding the stadium in Kidlington.
They heard from the Chair of Ox Vox Paul Peros, Christopher Lowes, head of Oxford United in the Community and Oxford United Women’s Riva Casley in support of the next steps.
Statements were also given from Suzanne McIvor from Friends of Stratfield Brake and several concerned residents, regarding the impact the development will have on the community.
The site has the advantage of being close to Oxford Parkway railway station and park and ride at Water Eaton, which would enable greater walking, cycling, bus and rail use among fans.
However, the council said they remain mindful that – as with the previously proposed site at Stratfield Brake – it is in the Oxford green belt.
As part of the agreement to begin negotiations, Oxford United will now be required to provide further information and meet several objectives:
- Maintain a green barrier between Oxford and Kidlington
- Improve access to nature and green spaces.
- Enhance facilities for local sports groups and on-going financial support.
- Significantly improve the infrastructure connectivity in this location, improving public transport to reduce the need for car travel as far as possible, and to improve sustainable transport through increased walking, cycling and rail use
- Develop local employment opportunities in Oxfordshire.
- Increase education and innovation through the provision of a sports centre of excellence and facilities linked to elite sport, community sport, health, and wellbeing.
- Support the county council’s net zero carbon emissions pledge through highly sustainable development.
Once the objectives had been met and secured through a draft legal agreement, planning permission would be required from Cherwell District Council.
OUFC needs to find a new home as the lease on the Kassam stadium site will run out in 2026.
Cllr Calum Miller, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Many people have questions about what the new stadium will look like and how matches will be managed for fans and local residents. There will be regular opportunities for the club to engage with the public about their plans as they develop.
”As the plans on which any final cabinet decision would be based are published, sufficient time will be allowed to seek the views of a wide range of stakeholders. The cabinet will take into consideration the results of this engagement as part of its decision-making.
“Oxford United is close to the hearts of thousands of people across this county. We understand how strongly supporters wish to see the club secure a new and enduring home. We will work constructively and openly with the club to help them achieve a long-term home in the county and a sustainable future.
“We have already taken the results of the engagement exercise conducted in early 2022 into account. These highlighted concerns and challenges associated with the Stratfield Brake site and the scale of OUFC’s proposals to lease 18 hectares of land for the development of a football stadium alongside hotel, retail and conference facilities, and training/community grounds.
“In response officers recommended a smaller site of approximately 5 hectares for the provision of a stadium only, which is separated from Kidlington and Gosford by two major roads. Use of this site would not impact community sports facilities or access to Stratfield Brake and the land owned by the Woodland Trust as a community amenity. We are, however, very mindful that this site is also in the green belt.
“When it comes to this proposal, it is important to stress that the county council has not today given the club a green light to develop a new stadium. We have agreed to start detailed negotiations on the terms on which Oxfordshire County Council land could be offered.”
Layla Moran MP said: “Over recent weeks, the strength of feeling among local residents has become crystal clear. It is vital that they are able to voice their concerns as part of the conversation. I urge Oxford United to engage meaningfully with the local residents who will be greatly affected by their plans.
“I was pleased by comments of Lib Dem councillors today, who continued to stand up for local residents who are understandably concerned at these proposals. I was disappointed by those Labour and Conservative councillors who seem to have already made their minds up before they have even seen detailed plans.
“I and the County Council want Oxford United to succeed, but the club will only do so if the views of local residents are listened to and there is genuine community support for the plans.”