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Plans submitted for massive Oxford urban regeneration

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Plans submitted for massive Oxford urban regeneration

Amy Williams

Long-mooted plans for a major science park and homes district on the former Northern Gateway site in North Oxford have been submitted by Thomas White Oxford on behalf of parent St John’s College, Oxford to Oxford City Council.

The plans are set to revamp an area in north Oxford into a sustainable business community creating jobs, homes, shops, nursery, hotel, open spaces including three new parks and £100m in infrastructure investment.

The submission for Oxford North is a hybrid application seeking outline consent for the overall masterplan and detailed consent for the first phase of development.

The plans comprise an urban district with city streets for the A40 and A44 anchored by a central street, with offices, homes, shops, leisure, arts and culture, and green spaces. It proposes 87,000 sq m (940,000 sq ft) of workspace likely principally a science park and 480 homes in a mix of market and affordable plus 23 acres of open spaces including three parks.

The plans project a £100 infrastructure investment, including £30m injected into improvements to the walking, cycling, bus and highway networks. The plans focus on a site long seen as an important link to the City centre and Oxford Parkway as well as a gateway to the Oxford to Cambridge corridor.

There will be £5.9m of advanced A40 transport infrastructure improvements, with funding from the central government Local Growth Fund secured by Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire LEP.

Thomas White Oxford is a company wholly owned by St John's College, Oxford leading the masterplan. Kier Developments had at once stage be involved in the proposals.

The Northern Gateway site was proposed by Oxford City Council in the emerging Core Strategy in 2007 and adopted in 2011. An Area Action Plan (AAP)was prepared by the City Council and adopted by them in 2015 following an examination by an independent planning inspector.

Julian Barwick, project chairman, Oxford North said: “Since the Area Action Plan was approved by the City Council in 2015, we have spent the last three years designing a new mixed-use community that will form a key part of Oxford’s future. Our proposal is a high level of investment in social benefit, bringing open spaces, jobs, homes and a major investment in new infrastructure to Oxford.

“The main question during our public consultation has been the traffic situation and whether it will actually improve.

“We are investing in improvements to the A40 and A44 corridors to provide significant additional capacity for walking, cycling and public transport, in addition to our planned upgrade at Pear Tree junction to the benefit of everybody travelling along these routes, not just the trips to Oxford North. We will also be supporting the delivery of new bus services to serve the site and wider area, all of which will help to tackle the existing congestion in the area and accommodate the new trips.

“Phase One will see the A40 improvement works including a new bus lane and cycleways, complementing Oxfordshire County’s wider strategy to deliver an outer ring of Park and Ride sites and express busways to the City.

“Our central street will remain a private 20mph road primarily serving as an access to the development. The geometry has not been designed to accommodate HGV traffic, although it may be used as a through route by a limited number of car trips. Traffic modelling demonstrating this has been undertaken using both the County’s and our own models, and outputs have been agreed with officers at the County and Highways England with a Memorandum of Understanding in place.

“The most heartening parts of the consultation was the general support for the housing, the open spaces and the sustainability aspects. Many people, as do we, want to see a good number of affordable homes and we are in discussion with the City Council about the final amount.

“From 23 acres of open space to 40% reduced water consumption, 850 electric car charging points and 5.7 miles of new and improved cycle paths, and all the buildings in Phase One being 100% electric. Ecologically, we believe this is a development to be proud of.

“As we look at our future, with Oxford North forecast to bring in circa £150 million per year in GVA to the economy, we hope that this important development will be seen as transformational and positive for the City, County and UK.”

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