County Council invites views of public on Oxford United’s request for land near Kidlington for a new stadium
Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet has asked officers to conduct a public engagement exercise to understand better the opportunities and concerns relating to the proposal from Oxford United Football Club to develop a new 18,000 capacity football stadium with linked leisure and commercial facilities.
The football club has asked the county council to transfer 18 hectares/44.48 acres of land that it owns at Stratfield Brake in Kidlington for 250 years. In addition to the stadium, the club’s proposal includes facilities such as a hotel, retail, conferencing and training and community grounds.
At its 18 January meeting the council’s Cabinet concluded it did not have sufficient information to give its approval for officers to enter into negotiations with both the club and the council’s current tenants on the land.
The Cabinet decided that there should first be a period of engagement with the public and local organisations on the principle of entering negotiations and on the council’s objectives for the use of the land. This will run from 25 January at 5pm to 22 February.
It also instructed officers to move forward with exploratory discussions with OUFC and with its existing tenants and sub-tenants at Stratfield Brake. It requested that a recommendation on whether to proceed with negotiations be made to its meeting on 15 March.
Cllr Calum Miller, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “This is a very significant proposal. There are implications for the people of Oxfordshire in general and residents in this area in particular as well as for the environment, the wider economy and job creation and the future of the county’s only professional football club.
“Very careful consideration was given at our Cabinet meeting as to whether we had sufficient information to authorise officers to start negotiations with the club.
“In the last week, it has been clear that many local residents and interested individuals and organisations want more time to consider the idea and to share their views with the County Council. The Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance is committed to participatory, open and transparent decision-making.
“These initial exchanges of view have highlighted a number of important issues. Rather than rushing into a decision today, we have asked officers to run a four-week public engagement exercise so that we can hear the views of those who care about this proposal. We hope that this will help us understand the views of the public on whether to proceed and, if so, which principles to apply to the negotiation.
“We appreciate that Oxford United face a tight timeline as they seek to secure a new home for their matches from 2026. We have asked officers to continue exploratory conversations with the club to address some of the issues that have been raised already and to take account of what we hear during the engagement exercise.
“When the Cabinet meets in March, we will then have more information on which to base a decision on whether to enter into formal negotiations.”
How is the land currently used?
Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) purchased part of the land at Stratfield Brake in 1937 to provide a strategic gap between north Oxford and Kidlington – the site is in the green belt. It is currently leased by OCC to Cherwell District Council.
Part of the site is already sports ground. OUFC has proposed that the football club will take responsibility for the cost to replace or mitigate the loss of any community sports facilities at Stratfield Brake.
The county council is not prepared to relinquish its current lease to the Woodland Trust which has land at Stratfield Brake. It is therefore not part of any proposal being considered.
Part of the site is currently let on a short-term basis to Foxcotte Fencing Limited, with the council having the ability to break the lease on 12 months’ notice.
How will the public engagement exercise be run?
This public engagement will run from 25 January at 5pm to 22 February on the council’s digital consultation and engagement platform https://letstalk.oxfordshire.gov.uk/stratfield-brake-land-use-proposal-2022
Local people and organisations will be able share their views on whether the County Council should start negotiations and, if so, which principles should guide any negotiations.