Oxford Central West seminar report

The report of February's seminar has been published.

12 May 2016

Oxford Central West report, May 2016
Oxford Central West report, May 2016

Several key sites including the large area around Oxford Station and Oxpens; land on both sides of the railway; the area between Hythe Bridge Street and Park End Street, and the Osney Mead industrial estate are likely to be redeveloped over the next ten years. This offers a unique chance to create a new gateway to our historic city, a first class transport interchange, space for a range of employment and much needed housing. In the past major developments have tended to be carried out piecemeal, each with a Master Plan which often failed to consider what would be happening in neighbouring areas. Oxford Civic Society realised this was a great opportunity to bring together a wide range of interested parties and encourage them to look for ways of co-ordinating their plans and create an outstanding new area of the city. Together with the Academy of Urbanism, Oxford Civic Society organised a well-attended workshop on 16 March 2016. Represenatives of most of the main stakeholders – Oxford City and Oxfordshire County, Oxford University, Nuffield College, local residents’ associations, major developers and environmental groups came together to see if they could find a way forward which would deliver a successful and enduring future for this central part of the city.

The workshop demonstrated that the old Parish of St Thomas offers space to enlarge the city centre to service a greater Oxford. If it is developed imaginatively it can help provide affordable housing, generate better jobs, solve transport problems, help reduce pollution and improve the quality of life for all. This will not be achieved without many years of effort. A full report of the day’s procedings has been produced and is freely available for download here.

Its conclusions are summed up by three of the participants:

‘We need to get a vision, then a framework and a structure to make it happen’ – Bob Price: Leader, Oxford City Council.

‘We have to look fifty years ahead; we need a framework that is flexible so investors are bound to something they can evolve’ – Patrick Eve: Savills’ Partners.

‘The next step is to ask the stakeholders what their plans are, (and in a larger venue)’ – Peter Thompson: Chairman, Oxford Civic Society.

The report sets out three “next steps” needed to put this ambitious project on a path towards a successful conclusion:

  • The principal landowners need to meet regularly to continue to understand each other’s ambitions and expectations.
  • The spatial linkages need to be mapped to identify the key infrastructure requirements, short and long term and feasibility studies will be needed to resolve key options e.g. transport links.
  • A budget will be required to engage the community (especially young people) in what the area can offer and funding sources and management arrangements need to be identified and investigated.

Oxford Civic Society and Oxford Futures will continue to work with all the organisations and agencies involved to encourage the creation of an attractive, integrated, functional and sustainable new quarter of the City centre.