Plans for £500m Oxford sciences district get go-ahead

Artist’s impression of the Oxford North development

Oxford City Council has granted planning permission to Thomas White Oxford, the development company of St John’s College, to build a new £500m life sciences district for the city.

The development will include new laboratories, workspaces for biomedical science, new homes, public parks and shops.

The planning approval is for an outline consent for the overall 64-acre masterplan to build 936,500ft2 (87,000m2) of laboratories and offices, 480 new houses for 1,500 people, of which a minimum of 35%, the equivalent of 168, will be affordable homes, small shops, bars and restaurants, hotel, around 23 acres of open spaces including three new parks, and investment into the walking, cycling, bus and highway networks.
A detailed consent has been granted for the first phase of development in the Central area, which will provide 140,000ft2 (13,006m2) of laboratories and office space in three buildings along with the first phase of a new public park:

  • The Red Hall will be a workspace for start-ups, entrepreneurs and freelancers, attracting spin-outs from Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University, with capacity for around 300 people to work collaboratively.
  • Two connected laboratory and workspace buildings totalling 55,000ft2 (5,109m2) each over four floors, which will accommodate life sciences businesses.

A reserved matters application for the initial enabling works, which will include the earthworks and drainage, will be submitted shortly to Oxford City Council. Oxford City Council will carry out its own public consultation for this application. The first phase of new homes on the western Canalside portion of the site will be submitted in the summer.

Professor Andrew Parker, St John’s College said: “The news today that Oxford North has the green light is the culmination of many years of working collaboratively with Oxford City Council, and Oxfordshire County Council for highways, whose vision has been for the area to become home to a science and technology community, with much-needed new homes and vital infrastructure improvements.”

Councillor Yvonne Constance, cabinet member for environment at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Oxfordshire County Council is supporting this work with a significant series of upgrades to the A40 to make cycling, walking and bus travel safe and attractive to residents as part of our overall commitment to the decarbonisation of the county.

“The Oxford North development is also a welcome way forward for the city; the design has sustainability included throughout to make it both an attractive place to work and live whilst having a very low environmental impact which the county backs.

“The inclusion of electric vehicle charging networks within the plans will also help to make this a sustainable development whilst helping us meet our target to become a net-zero carbon county.”

Acting on behalf of Thomas White Oxford are: Savills, Fletcher Priest Architects, Gardiner & Theobald LLP, Stantec, Townshend Landscape Architects, Hoare Lea, EDP, AKT II, BSG Ecology and Spacecraft Consulting.

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