10 major projects set to transform Oxford in 2023 and beyond.
From transport improvements to housing developments, there’s plenty of work going on across Oxford, and here’s a rundown of ten major projects that are set to transform Oxford in 2023 and beyond or, at the very least, have a significant impact on the city.
While some of these initiatives have been hampered by rising costs due to a hangover from the coronavirus pandemic and a combination of the war in Ukraine and rising costs, others are on track to be delivered in the near future.
1. Oxford Train Station improvements
This multi-million-pound investment by Network Rail will help provide an enlarged station with a new western station entrance next to Botley Road. In addition to railway works, the Botley Road bridge will be replaced to address vehicle headroom issues with standard double-decker buses.
Widely considerd to be one of the major projects set to transform Oxford, there is expected to be a significant impact on Botley Road and surrounding areas as work is undertaken to demolish the Station Grill Diner and the youth hostel and divert vital utility services such as water, gas and electricity.
Network rail had proposed full closure of Botley Road to traffic for 12 months from 09 January 2023, but it later announced that it was no longer be able to meet the January start date for work to commence, and, consequently, the proposed closure of Botley Road has been delayed.
Discover more: Oxford Train Station improvements project
2. Oxford North Project
The Oxford North Project is a substantial development of a new life sciences district for Oxford to include new laboratories and workspaces for biomedical science, new homes, public parks, a hotel, a nursery, neighbourhood shops, cafes, restaurants and bars.
The masterplan for the development was granted planning permission in March last year, and it includes 480 new homes in a mix of private and affordable new homes, from one-bedroom apartments to five-bedroom family homes.
The district is split into three areas: Canalside, a 3.58-hectare plot of land to the south of the A40 and north of Port Meadow, where developer Hill Residential will build 317 homes; Central (to the north of the A40 and west of the A44); and Eastside (east of the A44).
Discover more: Oxford North project
3. A40 improvements Programme
Oxfordshire County Council is improving the A40 between Witney and Oxford to deliver safe and reliable travel options for those who rely on it for work, leisure and economic success. There are six schemes in the A40 improvements as follows:
- Upgrading the A40 between east of Witney to the Eynsham park and ride site into a dual carriageway.
- A new 850-space park and ride in Eynsham to provide easier access to improved and more reliable bus services into Oxford.
- A 6.5km proposed eastbound and westbound bus priority corridor along the A40 between Eynsham park and ride, towards Duke’s Cut, with improved routes for pedestrians and cyclists.
- A new eastbound bus lane and improved cycling and pedestrian facilities linking the A40 integrated bus lanes project with A40 Oxford North.
- The A40 Access to Witney scheme proposes improvements to the existing B4022/ A40 junction at Shores Green.
- Proposals for bus, cycle, and pedestrian routes between the Wolvercote roundabout and the A34 flyover.
The council recently carried out a thorough review of the programme in light of the cost pressures that have been identified that exceed current budgets. It is now working with its funding partners to determine the best way to deliver the programme, and an update is expected in early 2023.
Discover more: A40 Improvements Programme
In the meantime, Scheme 2 – The Eynsham park and ride project – which is fully funded, is proceeding as planned. Preparatory work on the site began in October 2022, and construction is expected to be completed in 2024.
4. Traffic filter trials
The cabinet at Oxfordshire County Council approved controversial plans for six traffic filters to be trialled in Oxford at a meeting on Tuesday, 29 November, despite critics saying it would negatively affect businesses and the city centre economy.
But the trial of the six traffic filters – which the council says is designed to reduce traffic, make bus journeys faster and make walking and cycling safer will not begin until after improvement works to Oxford railway station is complete, which is likely to be in 2024.
Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for travel and development strategy, explained that the traffic filters would turn Oxford into six 15-minute neighbourhoods where local services are within a 15-minute walking radius.
Discover more: Oxford’s Traffic Filters
5. Oxford University’s Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities
The Schwarzman Centre construction, which reached an important construction milestone with a commencement ceremony on 18 November 2022, is the single biggest capital project ever carried out at Oxford University.
The centre, made possible by a £175 million gift from Stephen A. Schwarzman, is expected to be completed in 2025 and will boost teaching and research in the humanities at the University of Oxford – providing a new home that brings together seven faculties, the Institute for Ethics in AI, the Oxford Internet Institute, and a new humanities library.
The centre will also house a full suite of high-quality exhibition and performance spaces, including a 500-seat concert hall, a 250-seat theatre and a 100-seat Black Box space for creating and delivering experimental performances.
Discover more: The Schwarzman Centre
6. Water Eaton Development
In September 2022, Bellway acquired the Water Eaton site (also known as PR6a) from Christ Church and has since launched its final stage of public consultation on a draft outline planning application, ahead of submitting it to Cherwell District Council in 2023.
The site, which is south of Oxford Parkway station and Park and Ride, adjacent to the northern edge of Oxford at Cutteslowe and east of Oxford Road, is allocated for the development of new homes, a primary school and a local centre in the Cherwell Local Plan partial review.
The development with up to 800 homes, 50% of which will be affordable, will be an extension of Oxford with a visible and distinctive frontage onto Oxford Road. The consultation on proposals for Water Eaton runs until 20 January 2023, and you can provide your feedback by visiting the Have your Say page on this website..
Discover more: Water Eaton Development
7. Oxford University’s Life and Mind Building
Situated next to Oxford’s listed University Parks, the Life and Mind Building is the University of Oxford’s largest-ever building project, with an estimated cost of £200 million and a gross internal area of 269,097 sq ft (25,000 sq m or the equivalent of 3.5 football fields).
The building will house the Departments of Experimental Psychology and Biology, including Plant Sciences and Zoology and provide research facilities to 800 students and 1,200 researchers. It also aims to facilitate the university’s schools and public outreach programmes through opportunities for art, exhibitions, lectures and conferences that offer a ‘window into science’.
Planning permission was granted in January 2021, and Wates has been appointed as the main contractor to deliver the building designed by internationally renowned architect practice NBBJ as part of a £4 billion partnership between Oxford University and Legal & General. It is scheduled to open in 2024.
Read more: Life and Mind Building
8. Oxpens Development
Oxpens development is a proposal to deliver a mixed-used riverside neighbourhood on an under-used 15-acre brownfield site between Oxford Train Station and Oxford Ice Rink to the west of Oxford city. It is being promoted by OxWED LLP, a joint venture between Oxford City Council and Nuffield College.
The emerging plans for the ‘new quarter’ for Oxford include around 234 new apartments (50% affordable, with 82 for social rent and 35 for First Homes and Shared Equity), some 250 student rooms, 500,000 sq ft of offices and labs, and a hotel with about 250 rooms.
As a pedestrian and cycle-centric scheme, the new Oxpens neighbourhood will include the addition of the new ‘Oxpens River Bridge’ – to provide new links to and from the city centre – and a public space, complete with an amphitheatre for performances, hospitality and informal activity.
Discover more: Oxpens Development
9. Reopening the Cowley Branch Line
Oxford City Council has approved a £4.56 million package of funding for the detailed design and feasibility works required to reopen the Cowley Branch Line to passengers. This next stage of work will culminate in the production of a Full Business Case, setting out, amongst other things, how the project could be implemented and how it could be funded, including any proposed Government funding.
Reopening the Cowley Branch Line to passengers has been identified as one of the major projects to transform Oxford within the Oxford Local Plan, the Oxfordshire Local Transport and Connectivity Plan and the Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study. It is expected that reintroducing passenger services along the Cowley Branch Line, presently used for freight services to and from the BMW Mini Plant, will see the development of two new stations in the south and east of Oxford.
The first proposed station would be next to the Oxford Science Park, Littlemore and the Ozone Leisure Complex – to be called Oxford South. The second proposed station, Oxford East, would be next to ARC Oxford (formerly Oxford Business Park), Oxford Retail Park and Blackbird Leys. Both stations would also be ideally located to serve new developments planned in South Oxfordshire adjacent to the Science Park and at the nearby Northfields site.
10. Proposed South Oxford Science Village
South Oxford Science Village is a proposed development of nearly 3,000 new homes on land south of Grenoble Road – between the A4074 to the west and Sandford Brake substation to the east described as an urban extension to the south of Oxford.
The proposed development will also feature an extension to the Oxford Science Park, new schools, open spaces, community facilities and shops, as well as improvements to sustainable travel, such as a new Park and Ride. It is also expected it will contribute to the regeneration of the Blackbird Leys neighbourhood.
Oxford City Council is working with landowners Thames Water and Magdalen College to agree on the next steps for the delivery of the development, which sits largely within South Oxfordshire District Council boundaries, and a planning application could be submitted in 2023.
Read more: South Oxford Science Village