The cabinet at Oxfordshire County Council has approved plans with Oxford United to govern open and transparent relations between the two parties while they work to explore the impact of a new stadium for the club on council-owned land.
The start of initial negotiations about the land known as “the triangle” near Kidlington were approved at January’s cabinet meeting and have already begun.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Oxford United FC has now been agreed upon at the 21 March meeting of the council’s cabinet, along with a plan for engaging with stakeholders and local communities over the coming weeks and months.
Councillor Calum Miller, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Whether or not a stadium is built at the triangle site is a significant decision for local people in this area, residents across the county and fans of Oxford United. As such, the decision, and the process leading up to it, needs to be as open and transparent as possible.
“We know that it is an urgent project for the club, who have outlined their need to find an alternative home before 2026. We are committed to responding promptly to them and to taking decisions in a timely way. That’s why officers were in touch with the club the day after the January cabinet meeting, and regular discussions have been taking place ever since.
“We have now approved a timetable for the next stages and a memorandum of understanding with the club on the process in the coming months. The first step is for the club to provide further detailed proposals. We know they are working to deliver these.
“We have built into the proposed timetable a period of public and stakeholder engagement that will commence as soon as the club’s proposals have been received. It will focus on whether the club’s proposals address the council’s seven strategic priorities for the use of the land. In the meantime, we are encouraging the club to undertake their own engagement with local residents as their plans develop.
“We want everyone to be able to share their views with us before we take a final decision. The club’s need to find a new home is well understood, but any decision we take has to be guided by the overarching aim of whether it brings benefit to our community in Oxfordshire.”
What does the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Oxford United FC say?
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) requires Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford United FC to agree to:
What conditions has the county council already set out?
For Oxford United to receive an in-principle agreement from the council to lease or buy the triangle site, their proposal must address the seven strategic priorities set out by the council for the use of the land.
It must also meet objectives around mitigating long-term financial risk to the council and obtaining the best value for the taxpayer from any transaction. These were agreed upon at the 24 January cabinet meeting.
The seven strategic priorities are:
The county council’s engagement will focus on the extent to which stakeholders are satisfied that OUFC’s proposals address the council’s strategic priorities set out above. It will be divided into two phases.
The results of these engagement exercises will be analysed and reported to the county council’s cabinet before it decides on whether to make the land at the triangle available to OUFC.
Further details can be found in the cabinet report. There is also information on the council’s website at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/stadium
Oxfordshire County Council is not the final decision-maker on whether or not the scheme receives planning consent. Any final proposal by the club would need to be put through the planning process at Cherwell District Council, which will include public consultation.