Oxford United Football Club commitment to securing the club’s long term future by providing a new 18,000 capacity ground for the team overcame a significant hurdle on Tuesday.
Oxfordshire County Council voted to continue discussions over the proposed move to Stratfield Brake where Oxford United hope to lease the land in Kidlington for 250 years and build a hotel, retail, conferencing facility, training ground and community sports ground in addition to the stadium.
Councillor Calum Miller asked the club provide more details on the other potential sites to understand why they are not suitable, and wanted a decision to be in the best interests of the county and its residents.
The club announced the new site for the potential new stadium back in January, and Oxford County Council delayed any decision to allow for resident feedback which has now passed, and it is positive for the Yellows that the move has not been dismissed.
Opposition is centred around the fact it’s a green space and complaints the clubs fans dominated the survey over the local residents who would be affected. But it would appear that other sites would at least have the same factors.
Currently, the Kassam Stadium license agreement runs out in 2026, which has been the U’s home since leaving the Manor Ground in 2001. For the past few years, the club has been searching for a new ground at the heart of the Oxfordshire community, putting in motion plans for the next phase of the club’s development and expansion.
The site for the potential new stadium is near Oxford Parkway and off the A34 at the current Stratfield Brake Sports Ground at Freize Way, Kidlington. Oxfordshire County Council currently owns the site and they have had important meetings to secure the future of Oxford United.
Depending on the approval by the Cabinet, Oxford United would be able to proceed with the plans to get planning permission for a brand new stadium on the site which would provide the capacity and facilities to increase the on-pitch ambitions as well as provide a better matchday experience for supporters. The move would also improve the community outreach programme for the club which would help to follow their off-pitch long terms visions.
“It has always been our desire to be in control of our own destiny and build a sustainable future for the club on our own terms,” said Oxford United managing director Niall McWilliams. “We are hopeful that this proposed stadium move would enable us to do exactly that.”
He continued to say that the project is more than football and that it would bring community and sporting facilities to the area.
The proposal includes community sports grounds and training facilities at the Stratfield Brake site along with a conference centre, hotel and retail facilities.
Oxford United would love to share the discussions of the future planning of the new stadium with the supporters and the wider community so that they have something to be proud of.
The proposed stadium area is near the A34, Oxford Parkway Station and Oxford Parkway Park & Ride which would allow supporters to travel to the games via sustainable and alternative transport options. This would move away from fans having to drive which is currently what they do when travelling to Kassam Stadium, the current home stadium.
Hundreds of New Jobs
The club has stated that the plan for a new stadium would create over 800 new jobs for the community. The County plans show that conference, community and training facilities along with shops and a hotel.
The site is located within the Oxford greenbelt and the county council have stated that any new buildings in the 45-acre site would “need to maintain a green barrier” between Kidlington and Oxford.
The council has acknowledged that there may be difficulties with the plans as they are currently understood. In addition, the council recognizes the challenges in terms of national planning policy and political perception within the Cherwell District Council’s boundaries.
However, there are plans for around 4,400 new homes to be constructed in the land around Yarnton, Kidlington, Begbroke and the North Oxford Golf Course. There have been some concerns by the council that the housing crisis hasn’t been properly addressed in Oxford.
This would create multiple amounts of opportunities for local construction workers over the next few years.
Sustainability Comes First
Anindya Bakrie has been a minority investor in the club for three years and would like to become a majority shareholder at the club, subject to approval from the English Football League.
The Indonesian businessman has voiced that he would love the club to put environmental and financial sustainability as the main aims for the future long term plans of Oxford United.
Oxford as a city would like to be carbon neutral by 2050 and Bakrie agrees that the club will need to support that.
Also, he has made it clear that he would love to see the League One team achieve promotion into the Championship in two years.
Paul Perros, The chairman of OxVox, the Oxford United Supporters Trust also stated that he hoped that the club would continue to grow but the current stadium does not allow them to be as sustainable as they would like. Moving to a new location would create a vast amount of opportunities for the club and community.