Oxpens development a step closer as City Council and Nuffield College sign historic deal

Cllr bob price, Oxford City Council bespectacled and Gwilym Hughes

Oxford City Council and Nuffield College have formed a joint venture company to bring together the land in the Oxpens area in preparation for a comprehensive redevelopment of the site in a £200 million mixed-use scheme.

The joint venture company has acquired eight acres of land from government-owned London and Continental Railways, and brought that site together with a further 8.7 acres from the City Council. The acquisition ends years of uncertainty over the development of Oxpens and complements Nuffield College’s acquisition of the Jam Factory and Island sites from Christ Church last year.

Following this historic deal, Oxford's West End is set to be transformed into a new neighbourhood with between 300 and 500 new homes, together with  offices and commercial space for the many new and growing enterprises which want to locate in the heart of the city and near good rail links.

Oxpens is the largest remaining development area in the city centre. The Council plans to increase the proposed density of development at the site to boost both the amount of potential office space and homes – including social housing and homes for key workers.

Situated almost opposite the new John Lewis store, and conveniently located between the Westgate shopping centre and Oxford railway station, the Oxpens development will complete the regeneration of the city’s West End.

Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “We are delighted to have been able to establish this commercial partnership with Nuffield College and to bring together the whole of the Oxpens site for development. Oxpens was identified as a strategic priority site in the City Deal and the Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan, and I would want to thank the Secretary of State, Greg Clark, for his support throughout the lengthy process of acquisition.

“Oxpens will unlock major private sector investment and new jobs, as well as delivering significant environmental and urban regeneration benefits. The joint venture company will now select a development partner or partners to take the scheme forward during 2017 and to start work after the opening of the new Westgate in the Autumn of next year.”

Nuffield College Head of Endowment Office, 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 ground-breaking approach like this that has been taken in Oxford before.

Everyone realises you cannot do these schemes in isolation and we have now got to see how these sites could fit together.

“Academic buildings for the College and Oxford University in the West End could be combined with new homes, commercial and leisure buildings to create a “cluster” for the social sciences and vibrant public spaces.”