The cabinet at Oxfordshire County Council cabinet will receive an update on proposals for Oxford United’s new stadium on council-owned land known as “the Triangle” – located east of Frieze Way and south of the Kidlington roundabout.
The report to the meeting of the cabinet on 18 April says that negotiations on heads of terms and due diligence are underway and that the likely timescale for a final decision remains September.
At the March cabinet meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding governing timescales and engagement was agreed upon with the football club. More detail is set out in the 18 April report on how this will work in the coming months.
The council has recently been provided with further information by OUFC as regards its long-term vision and intent. Officers will now await more detailed plans.
Councillor Calum Miller, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “We promised an open and transparent process, and that is what we are delivering. Cabinet members will be updated with the latest information on 18 April, and all councillors will receive a briefing beforehand.
“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 has been well publicised, but any decision we take has to be guided by the overarching aim of whether it brings benefit to our community in Oxfordshire.
“We welcome the fact that the club has very recently submitted more detail on its vision and long-term intent. Officers began reviewing this material immediately and will look forward to seeing more detailed plans in due course.”
Officers are currently undertaking stakeholder meetings to explore early views with regard to the OUFC proposals. The meetings are being run by an independent chair and are taking place in April and May.
Invitations have been sent to a range of stakeholders, including local parish councils, district and county councillors, MPs, local sports clubs, local interest groups, groups representing OUFC supporters, and representatives of Oxfordshire’s business community, including tourism.
Meanwhile, an update briefing on Oxford United stadium proposals will take place for county councillors on 17 April. A recording of OUFC’s presentation will be published on the council’s website, together with a set of frequently asked questions. A dedicated page has been published on the county council website: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/stadium
OUFC is undertaking its own engagement activities. The county council welcomes these activities and recognises that it does not replace its own engagement and listening activities.
Next proposed steps
- Independently facilitated stakeholder meetings will take place in April and May.
- Officers are planning the second phase of engagement, which will include a six-week engagement exercise open to everyone. This will commence when the football club publishes its scheme proposals and after officers have been satisfied that they have sufficient information to assess to what extent the council’s seven strategic priorities will be addressed.
The council’s priorities
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:
- Maintain a green barrier between Oxford and Kidlington.
- Improve access to nature and green spaces.
- Enhance facilities for local sports groups and ongoing financial support.
- Significantly improve the infrastructure connectivity in this location, improve public transport to reduce the need for car travel as fas as possible and improve sustainable transport through increased walking, cycling and rail use.
- Develop local employment opportunities in Oxfordshire.
- Increase education and innovation through the provision of a sports centre of excellence and facilities linked to elite sport, community sport, health and wellbeing.
- Support the county council’s net zero carbon emissions pledge through highly sustainable development.