Cabinet sets out key conditions for Oxford United stadium bid to proceed

Proposals for council-owned land to be used by Oxford United FC to build a new stadium near Kidlington have been approved, but important conditions have been imposed.

The council’s cabinet today approved in principle the lease of land at the ‘Triangle’ to the football club for the development of a new stadium.

The leasehold comes with a number of conditions:

  • The club must be given planning permission by Cherwell District Council.
  • The 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 club must provide detail of how it will meet the commitments made in its submissions to the county council so far.
  • Restrictive covenants will be put in place that will set aside the use of the land for football/community sports and leisure/sports stadia for the term of the lease, with limited commercial activities permitted only within the stadium footprint.

Officers had proposed the sale of the land but following their debate at the cabinet meeting, councillors decided to opt for the leasing of the land.

The county council cabinet’s decision follows extensive public and stakeholder engagement during 2022 and 2023. More than 5,000 people and organisations shared their views through a survey run during June and July 2023.

A previous survey in January and February 2022 resulted in over 3,700 responses. Feedback was also provided from the county council’s Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which met on 13 September.

Cllr Liz Leffman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Leader, said: “Cabinet members have individually and collectively thought long and hard about this decision. There has been a huge amount to weigh up in considering this matter and we recognise that there are very strong and diverse views.

“We would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to share their feedback with us, which we have studied in great detail.

“We know that many local residents have concerns about the stadium, particularly around transport and parking. Officers advised us that these had not yet been fully addressed in the information provided by the club. The conditional agreement to lease the land is only the first step in the process and the club must now provide much more detailed proposals alongside the planning process, including addressing transport and connectivity issues.

“Our officers will be scrutinising these plans in detail in our statutory role as local highways authority.

“A key factor for the cabinet in reaching this decision has been to bring long-term benefit to communities in Oxfordshire. We believe the new stadium has the potential to do this by providing local employment, education opportunities for our young people, much improved facilities for local sports groups, and securing the future of county’s only professional football league club, which has such a positive impact on many people’s lives.

“We have asked the club to spell these out as they now develop their plans through the planning process and we will insist on them through the conditions we place on a future contract. It is now for the club to demonstrate that they can develop the detailed proposals to meet the aspirations they set out in their statements to us and to the public. If they fail to do this, we will not sign.

“Once again, we would like to thank everyone who has taken part in this extensive and thorough process.

“The next step for the club is to submit a planning application, and residents will once again be able to share their views as part of this process.” 

Full detail on the club's proposals, results of the engagement exercises, and the seven strategic priorities that the county council set, can be found in the cabinet report.