Land at Jericho Canal Side And Community Centre 33A Canal Street Oxford Oxfordshire OX2 6BX

16 August 2020

Change of use of existing community centre, demolition of existing structures and garages, redevelopment to provide residential, community centre and boat yard uses, including associated works for the provision of new public realm, ramped access to the Church, a public bridge across the Oxford Canal and works to the Canal to include a new winding hole.

20/01277/LBC |Construction of a ramp and stairs to the south-west elevation of the church | Land at Jericho Canal Side and Community Centre 33A Canal Street Oxford Oxfordshire OX2 6BX

Members of the OCS Planning Group have scrutinized the above applications for the site on the Jericho Canal.  Over the years we have seen various development proposals for this important site in the heart of Jericho, which has much history attached to it and has a special place in the hearts of the land dwellers and boating community.  All these earlier proposals have failed for various reasons but the prime factor has been the absence of agreement among the various site owners. We would hope that the current application could bring together all parties so that this long-awaited project can be realized.

Turning to the current application, it is problematic on a number of levels, but all these elements can be addressed if there is a willingness among the stakeholders. In particular, OCS are concerned that the affordable homes provision is not compliant with current policy. The proposal is for only 6 units from a total of 24 dwellings (25% and not the minimum of 50%). This must be addressed with the developer.

The other elements that concern us relate to the overall smallness of the piazza (caused by the additional housing proposed for the south side of the square), which limits its use for most open-air activities and thus its financial viability. Some adjustment to the area occupied by housing or the overall size of the Community Centre would provide space for a larger piazza and a much better setting for the Grade 1 listed church.

The bridge that straddles the Oxford Canal will be difficult for wheelchairs to negotiate and its long-term maintenance will be very expensive to guarantee.

All these elements need to be examined carefully before any decision can be made.