Station Redevelopment – Oxpens Option

Letter to the Oxford Times

23 April 2013

Following a feature article in the previous week’s paper and the further announcement that Network Rail has appointed consultants Aedas to draw up a master plan for redevelopment of Oxford station, this letter to The Oxford Times from OCS Chairman Peter Thompson was published on 25 April 2013:

Dear Sir

Your articles last week promoting the concept of an integrated bus and train station for Oxford were both welcome and timely.

What you didn’t mention was that in 2004 the County Council, with some real foresight gave consideration to a new, re-located station nearer to the ice rink. This solution had many advantages over the reconstruction of the station at the now even-more cramped existing site. The Oxpens option was dropped because of additional signalling-replacement costs. Nine years on, and with new-found national commitment to rail investment, Network Rail have approval to complete reconstruction, electrification and re-signalling of the whole Oxford rail network. The ‘killer’ of the 2004 Oxpens proposal has thus ceased to be relevant.

Furthermore, additional ex-railway land has become available and the Westgate Centre will be extended towards Oxpens, with John Lewis at the extremity. Masterplans for the West End and station area are being developed and it would be a tragedy if the Oxpens solution was not very seriously re-examined. With a transport interchange for trains, buses, London and long distance coaches, bicycles and pedestrians, as well as cars, there could be a hotel, state-of-the-art offices, retail opportunities, perhaps even a conference centre associated with the Said Business School. The Oxpens site is large enough to still deliver much-needed housing as well. None of this would encroach on the Town Green further southeast.

The Oxford City Deal submission calls for a ‘new partnership across all levels of government …. to deliver transformational change…’. Seizing this once in a generation opportunity to provide a proper transport interchange is that partnership’s first test. See here for more details!

Yours faithfully,

Peter Thompson

Chairman, Oxford Civic Society