Officers recommend approval for football stadium proposal - planning permission would still be needed

Officers at Oxfordshire County Council are recommending approval for Oxford United to use county council owned land known as ‘the Triangle’ near Kidlington to build a new stadium.

Should the council’s Cabinet approve the lease or sale of the land to the football club at its meeting of 19 September, Oxford United would still need to seek planning approval from Cherwell District Council as the local planning authority.

The officer recommendation comes with a qualification that the football club must produce a net-zero plan that is fully costed and comes with clear timescales and outcomes from design, construction and full operation of the stadium.

The recommendation for approval also includes the requirement for covenants that would set aside the use of the land for football/community sports and leisure/sports stadia in perpetuity, with limited ancillary commercial use within the stadium footprint.

A report summarising the public engagement undertaken in the summer, together with officers’ analysis of the club’s response to the council’s strategic priorities, will be considered by a meeting of the council’s Place and Overview Scrutiny Committee on 13 September before then being considered by Cabinet on 19 September as part of its final decision on whether to lease or sell the land to the club.

A total of 5,441 people and organisations responded to the public survey during June and July as the county council sought views on whether the club’s proposals address the council’s seven strategic priorities. The council owns the land in question.

Previous to this, a series of targeted, independently facilitated meetings with stakeholders were held in April and May to explore early views on the OUFC proposals. Public and stakeholder engagement had also taken place in 2022.

Just over two thirds of those who responded to the survey were ‘a resident of Oxfordshire’ (71 per cent). Overall, a slim majority of Oxfordshire resident respondents felt the information provided by the club fully addressed the council’s seven strategies priorities, with percentages varying between 51 and 60 per cent depending on the priority.

There were, however, geographical variations, with respondents who live nearest to the proposed site holding the strongest reservations. The detailed report can be found in the report to the cabinet and report to the scrutiny community.

Oxfordshire County Council Chief Executive Martin Reeves said: “Officers have made a recommendation for approval having looked carefully at a range of different information, including the views provided to us by those who took the time and care to respond. There are conditions attached to those recommendations including a net-zero requirement.

“It is now for cabinet members to debate this in public on 19 September and come to a final decision.

“They will no doubt look carefully at the results of engagement with the public and stakeholders during both 2022 and 2023. This has been extensive and thorough and the county council would once again like to sincerely thank everyone who has taken part for sharing their views.

“It should be stressed that, in the event that cabinet ultimately decides to approve the use of the land for the football club to build a new stadium, Oxford United would still need to seek planning approval from Cherwell District Council as the local planning authority.”

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