Update report on Oxford United stadium proposals discussed by cabinet

Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet has received an update on proposals from Oxford United FC for a new stadium on council-owned land known as ‘the Triangle’. The land is located east of Frieze Way and south of the Kidlington roundabout.

Cabinet heard that negotiations on heads of terms and due diligence are underway and that the likely timescale for a final decision remains September.

At the March cabinet meeting a memorandum of understanding governing timescales and engagement was agreed with the football club. More detail was set out for cabinet as to how this will work in coming months.

The council has recently been provided with further high-level information by OUFC as regards its long-term vision and intent. Officers will now await more detailed plans.

Councillor Calum Miller, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “We promised an open and transparent process and that is what we are delivering. This latest report gave us an update as to where we stand and what will happen in coming weeks and months.

“We want everyone to be able to share their views with us before we take a final decision. The club’s need to find a new home has been well publicised, but any decision we take has to be guided by the overarching aim of whether it brings benefit to our community in Oxfordshire.

“We noted that the club has very recently submitted more statements on its vision and long-term intent. Officers began reviewing this material immediately. We have stressed to the club that we look forward to seeing more detailed plans.”

Current work

Officers are currently undertaking stakeholder meetings to explore early views with regards to the OUFC proposals. The meetings are being run by an independent chair and are taking place in April and May.

Invitations have been sent to a range of stakeholders, including local parish councils, district and county councillors, MPs, local sports clubs, local interest groups, groups representing OUFC supporters, and representatives of Oxfordshire’s business community including tourism.

Meanwhile a meeting took place for all county councillors on 17 April at which councillors were able to ask questions of the club. A link to OUFC’s presentation is available on the council’s dedicated website: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/stadium. A set of frequently asked questions will be published on the site shortly.

OUFC is undertaking its own engagement activities. The county council welcomes these activities and recognises that it does not replace its own engagement and listening activities.

Next steps

  • Independently facilitated stakeholder meetings will take place in April and May.
  • Officers are planning the second phase of engagement, which will include a six-week engagement exercise open to everyone. This will commence when the football club publishes its detailed scheme proposals and after officers have been satisfied that they have sufficient information to assess to what extent the council’s seven strategic priorities will be addressed.

The council’s priorities

For Oxford United to receive in-principle agreement from the council to lease or buy the triangle site, their proposal must address the seven strategic priorities set out by the council for the use of the land. It must also meet objectives around mitigating long-term financial risk to the council and obtaining best value for the taxpayer from any transaction. These were agreed at the 24 January cabinet meeting.

The seven strategic priorities are:

  • Maintain a green barrier between Oxford and Kidlington
  • Improve access to nature and green spaces
  • Enhance facilities for local sports groups and on-going 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 to 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 centre of excellence and facilities linked to elite sport, community sport, health and wellbeing
  • Support the county council’s net zero carbon emissions pledge through highly sustainable development.