Oxford United F.C. plan of action on new digs



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Oxford United stadium project moving forward Image: Oxfordshire County Council

The Proposal

The Oxfordshire County Council and the EFL League One club – the Oxford United Football Club (OUFC) (UK) – are in negotiations on the terms on which the Council-owned land could be used for the development of a new stadium for the club.

‘OXFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’ stated that the land, known as ‘the Triangle’, is located East of Frieze Way and South of the Kidlington roundabout in United Kingdom.

Oxford, England (UK)-based the Oxfordshire County Council is the county Council for the non-metropolitan county of Oxfordshire in the South East of England, UK. Established in 1889, it is an elected body responsible for most strategic local Government services in the county.

The Oxford United Football Club (OUFC) is a professional football club in the City of Oxford, England. The team plays in League One, the third tier of the English football league system.

The 12,500-capacity Kassam Stadium is the home of the Oxford United Football Club, and is named after the ground’s owner and former Chairman of the football club, Firoz Kassam.

‘OXFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’ further stated that a site at Stratfield Brake in Kidlington had initially been proposed by the club, but it was recognized there were challenges associated with it. Officers subsequently identified ‘the Triangle’ as an alternative location and the Council’s Cabinet has confirmed that negotiations are about this site.

Any final decision regarding the leasing or sale of ‘the Triangle’ to the club will be taken in public at a future Cabinet meeting. To receive agreement from the Council, the club’s proposal must bring benefit to the communities in Oxfordshire in South East England.
 

About the Land

The land is located east of Frieze Way and South of Kidlington roundabout. Known as ‘the Triangle’, it is approximately five hectares in size. It is situated in the green belt.

A green belt is an area of land with fields or parks around a town or City, where people are not allowed to build houses or factories by law.

‘The Triangle’ is close to the Oxford Parkway Railway Station and the park and ride at Water Eaton. It is currently let to a single leaseholder and there is no current public access.
 

The Negotiations

The Council is currently negotiating commercial heads of terms with the football club.

These terms are non-binding. For OUFC to receive an agreement from the Cabinet to lease or buy ‘the Triangle’ site from the Council, the club’s proposal must address the following key strategic priorities set out by the Council for the use of the land:

  • Maintain a Green barrier between Oxford and Kidlington;
  • Improve access to nature and Green spaces;
  • Enhance facilities for local sports groups and ongoing financial support;
  • Significantly improve the infrastructure connectivity in this location, improving public transport to reduce the need for car travel in so far as possible, and 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 center of excellence and facilities linked to elite sport, community sport, health, and wellbeing; and
  • Support the county Council’s net zero carbon emissions pledge through highly sustainable development.

 
It must also meet objectives around managing financial risk and obtaining the best value for the taxpayer from any transaction.
 

The Decision about the Land

A decision on whether the OUFC can lease or buy the land at ‘the Triangle’ will be taken in public at a Cabinet meeting. This is expected to be in September 2023, but the earliest date would be July 2023.

For a final decision about the development of the proposed stadium the football club would need to submit a planning application to the Cherwell District Council as the local planning authority. It would then go through a full planning process involving public consultation.
 

Having your Say

The Council is committed to seeking the views of a wide range of stakeholders and the public before making a final decision. A six-week engagement exercise open to everyone will take place once the club’s proposals have been developed and the impacts clearly identified.
 

Who’s Who in this Process?

Set out below are the roles and responsibilities of each party:

  • The Oxfordshire United Football Club (OUFC) is responsible for the proposal to build a new football stadium. The club has publicly committed to engaging fans and the local communities. An engagement briefing is available on OUFC’s website;
  • The Oxfordshire County Council owns the land at ‘the Triangle’ where the OUFC want to build their new stadium. The Council has committed to engaging a wide range of stakeholders to explore their views on the extent to which the OUFC’s plans address the strategic priorities set out by the Council; and
  • The Cherwell District Council is the local planning authority with statutory responsibility for deciding if the OUFC can build a new stadium at ‘the Triangle’. Formal public consultation is part of the planning process.

 

Proposed Timeline

The following provides an indicative timeline. The earliest date for a Cabinet decision would be July, and the timetable for this is set out in Annex 3 of the Cabinet papers of March 21st, 2023.
 

Note: Swipe the screen (on the table below) from right to left to show the other details.
Date Details
January-May 2023 OUFC pre-planning and planning work
March 21st, 2023 The Council’s Cabinet to consider a memorandum of understanding with the OUFC, the timeline for the process and the Council’s engagement and communications strategy
March-May 2023 OUFC community engagement
March-May 2023 Council to undertake targeted engagement with stakeholders on OUFC’s emerging scheme and whether it addresses the Council’s strategic priorities
April 18th, 2023 Cabinet meeting with a progress update
May 23rd, 2023 Cabinet meeting setting out the final arrangements for public engagement and feedback from the stakeholder engagement undertaken to date
June 5th 2023 Publication of the OUFC final information regarding the proposed stadium
June 5th-July 30th, 2023 The Council to undertake public engagement on whether the OUFC’s scheme meets the Council’s strategic priorities (see note below)
September 19th, 2023 A Cabinet meeting will be held at which a decision will be taken on the use of the land
End September onwards The OUFC to decide whether to submit a planning application to the Cherwell District Council and to start the statutory planning process

 

Note about June 5th to July 30th, 2023

The Oxfordshire City Council is committed to a six-week engagement exercise after the club’s proposals have been published. If the OUFC provides sufficient information to identify the impact of the proposals sooner than June 5th, this engagement period can start sooner and this could bring forward the Cabinet decision. If the OUFC does not provide this information by June 5th, the engagement period will start later and this would push back any decision date. The Council is mindful that August is a month in which many people are away and would seek to avoid engagement during the peak holiday season.
 

Next Steps for the Council

On March 21st, 2023, the Cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the OUFC and the Council’s strategy for informing and engaging with the residents, fans and stakeholders.

The Council is now progressing with Phase 1 of the engagement strategy, which comprises targeted engagement with the stakeholders.
 

Background

The OUFC approached the Council in late 2021 with a proposal to develop the Stratfield Brake playing fields and ‘the Triangle’ for a scheme including a new home stadium and commercial development.

The Stratfield Brake Sports Ground is a sporting facility located at Frieze Way in Kidlington, UK. It is Kidlington’s premier sporting facility with a fine pavilion, two cricket grounds, three rugby pitches, a football pitch, and the largest area of public open space in the village.

On January 18th, 2022, the Cabinet agreed to undertake a public engagement exercise to understand the local views and set out a series of objectives that any scheme should address prior to a final decision being made.

A Council-led public engagement exercise was undertaken in January and February 2022.

On March 15th, 2022, the Cabinet agreed that the officers would conduct discussions with the OUFC to deepen their understanding of the detailed proposals being made and to consider their compatibility with the Council’s strategic priorities.

The OUFC published their RIBA Stage 0 report in December 2022. This utilizes the design process set out by the Royal Institute of British Architects (the RIBA plan of work).

London (UK)-based the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a professional body for architects primarily in the United Kingdom, but also internationally, founded for the advancement of architecture under its Royal Charter granted in 1837, three supplemental Charters and a new Charter granted in 1971.

Stage 0 is a new stage within the RIBA Plan of Work 2013. Its purpose is simple: To ensure that a building project is the best way of achieving the client’s desired Project Outcomes.

Following consideration of the above proposals, the Cabinet met on January 24th, 2023 and agreed to enter into non-binding negotiations for the use of ‘the Triangle’ only for a new stadium.
 

Council Strategy:

  • March 21st, 2023 – Plan set out for timely talks on Oxford United’s stadium proposals;
  • March 14th, 2023 – Council sets out framework for timely talks on Oxford United’s stadium proposals – and commits to transparent engagement before its decision;
  • January 24th, 2023 – The Cabinet approves continued stadium discussions with Oxford United and commits to seek views before arriving at a final decision;
  • January 16th, 2023 – The Cabinet to discuss stadium land proposals on January 24th;
  • December 5th, 2023 – The Council Cabinet set to decide on leasing land to the Oxford United for a new stadium;
  • March 15th, 2022 – The County Council Cabinet to pursue detailed discussions on stadium proposal after more than 3,700 people respond to public engagement;
  • March 7th, 2022 – The County Council Cabinet to receive report on stadium proposal after more than 3,700 people respond to public engagement;
  • January 18th, 2022 – The County Council invites views of public on Oxford United’s request for land near Kidlington for a new stadium; and
  • January 10th, 2022 – The County Council set to consider Oxford United’s request for land near Kidlington for a new stadium.

 
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