Updated proposals for the long-awaited development of Oxpens will be presented this week, ahead of the submission of a planning application this fall.
The development is described as an opportunity to transform a neglected part of Oxford into an exciting mixed-use riverside neighborhood designed around outstanding new public spaces.
Updated proposals will be presented to the public at Oxford Town Hall tomorrow (Thursday 22 September).
OXWED LLP, a joint venture between Oxford City Council and Nuffield College, says the project is “a unique opportunity for the city, transforming this underused brownfield and expanding the city centre”.
It will provide much-needed new homes – 50% of which will be affordable – as well as jobs, student accommodation, a hotel and a major new public realm, as well as new and improved pedestrian and cycle routes.
Following an earlier consultation, the updated master plan increased the number of accommodations and reduced the size of the hotel. It also now incorporates the proposed position of the Oxpens River Bridge.
It is estimated that the scheme will contribute up to £280m a year to Oxford’s economy, spending up to £24m a year with local businesses.
With plenty of public transport, cycle and pedestrian links nearby, the largely car-free Oxpens development aspires to be Oxfordshire’s most sustainable residential and employment location.
Updated plans will be displayed at Town Hall and on the project website (www.oxpensoxford.uk) so people can see how the project has progressed in line with ongoing discussions with the local planning authority and thanks to feedback from the two public consultations held in 2021.
OXWED will then submit a planning application to Oxford City Council.
The wider Oxpens site is the largest housing allocation in the local plan for Oxford, and alongside other sites allocated in the local plan, and those in neighboring districts of Oxford, is a vital part of meet the city’s need for more housing.
The scheme also provides a significant amount of commercial space, addressing the shortage of high quality office and laboratory space in the city centre, thus fulfilling another key policy requirement for the site.
The current proposals represent only the first phase of delivery to Oxpens and focus on land owned by OXWED. It is expected that the remainder of the assigned site will be brought forward in the coming years.
The proposals also complement the emerging West End and Osney Mead Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), which sets out Oxford City Council’s vision for the West End, as well as the council’s economic and town center strategies.
Kevin Minns, Managing Director of OXWED, said: “This is a truly exciting time for everyone involved in the project and we are delighted to present this updated program which will transform this underutilized site and, in some respects, overlooked into a real asset to the people of Oxford.
“We are about to be able to create a vibrant new part of town, just minutes from the train station, with new homes, workspaces and a hotel. We are particularly proud of the new public square, amphitheater and new green spaces that everyone will be able to use and how they connect with the much loved Oxpens Meadow. The feedback we received from last year’s consultations was extremely helpful and fed into a refined set of new and better proposals.
“So before we submit the Oxpens planning application, we lay out the plans and let everyone know what has changed and what will happen next.”
The Oxpens planning application is for a master plan application and will be submitted later this fall. Subject to planning permission, OXWED will then engage a development partner to advance the project to detailed design and construction.
Councilor Alex Hollingsworth, Cabinet Member responsible for housing planning and delivery, said: ‘Oxpens is at the heart of the vision for the West End and the city as a whole as we look to the future and working hard to make Oxford a fair, inclusive, successful and sustainable place for all. The proposals have had very good engagement, and as they now move towards formal application, this is an important opportunity for people to see how the program has evolved.
Sir Andrew Dilnot, Principal of Nuffield College, said: “I am delighted that after many months of hard work by the professional team at OXWED, we are now approaching the point of submitting a planning application for the site. Oxpens.
“The ambition of the joint venture has been to produce a project of exceptional quality that will bring social and economic benefits to the city whilst being commercially deliverable, and the LLP’s work in this regard has been driven by the long-term interests term that the two partners have to support the lasting success of Oxford in general and the West End of the city in particular.