A major £500 million mixed-use scheme, which will breathe new life into the heart of Oxford, has moved a step closer following the purchase of key land in the Oxpens area and the signing of a historic joint venture between Nuffield College, Oxford and Oxford City Council.
Oxford City Council and Nuffield College have formed a joint venture company and acquired land from London and Continental Railways and Oxford City Council in the heart of Oxford's West End that will see a new neighbourhood created with hundreds of new homes, offices and possibly a hotel.
The acquisition ends years of uncertainty over the Oxpens area and complements Nuffield College’s acquisition of the Jam Factory and Island Site from Christ Church last year.
The Oxpens site is one of the largest development areas within the Oxford West End action area and lies almost opposite the new John Lewis, conveniently located between the new Westgate shopping centre and Oxford railway station.
The Council has stated that the Oxpens development is a strategic priority in the Oxford City Deal and the Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan, unlocking major private sector investment and jobs as well as delivering significant wider benefits.
The intention of the joint venture partners is to select a development partner to take the scheme forward during 2017 to coincide with the opening of the new Westgate in Autumn 2017.
Council leader Bob Price said previously there were plans to increase the proposed density of development at the Oxpens, to boost both the amount of potential office space and homes – including social housing and key worker properties.
Nuffield College Bursar Gwilym Hughes said: “We have made a real breakthrough and are very excited about these plans. We see this site as playing a pivotal key role in addressing the lack of affordable housing for a wide range of people in Oxford."
The regeneration of the West End will be of huge benefit to everyone and I cannot think of a groundbreaking approach like this that has been taken in Oxford before.
Gwilym Hughes, Bursar, Nuffiled College
“Everyone realises you cannot do these schemes in isolation and we have now got to see how these sites could fit together."
Mr Hughes said it was hoped academic buildings for the College and Oxford University in the West End could be combined with new homes, commercial and leisure buildings, in a bid to create a “cluster” for the social sciences and vibrant public spaces.
Bidwells and Minns Estates are advising Nuffield College, whilst JLL are advising Oxford City Council.