The redevelopment of Oxford’s railway station is taking a step forward, with the announcement that Atkins has been appointed to lead the development of a masterplan for the area.
The masterplan will include plans to improve the station itself, and also create better public spaces, bus and taxi interchange and cycling facilities. It will also look to maximise development opportunities in the immediate area to help the overall project’s viability.
The redevelopment and expansion of Oxford station will help position it as a national rail hub. It is a critical step in unlocking rail network capacity and the planned growth of new homes and jobs for both Oxford and Oxfordshire.
The station masterplan is also key to the city and county’s wider economic recovery, and climate emergency response, by improving sustainable transport and movement into and within the city.
The redevelopment of the station is now expected to be undertaken in distinct phases. The masterplan is essential to support this incremental approach, while achieving a comprehensive vision for a modern transport interchange.
The project will be delivered in partnership between Oxford City Council, Network Rail, Oxfordshire County Council and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).
New rail connections
The projected need for additional rail capacity in the coming years should ultimately see two additional railway lines and associated new platforms running through the station. This increased capacity is required to unlock future plans and emerging proposals that would cement Oxford station as a national rail hub. This includes:
- East West Rail (EWR), creating a rail link connecting Oxford, Bicester, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Cambridge, and communities in between
- The Cowley Branch Line, connecting local communities and key employment areas in the east of the city into the city centre and the wider railway network
- Further ambitions for EWR and other national routes, including opportunities for new direct services to Bristol and Swindon and improved connections with Birmingham, Worcester and the South Coast, faster connections to Heathrow
- More frequent services between Oxford and Banbury, Bicester, Culham, Didcot Parkway and Hanborough
A key part of a future West End Innovation District
The station investment is a key part of wider plans to transform the west end of Oxford into an nationally significant innovation district, providing much needed high quality office, research & development and other employment space, as well as residential and leisure activities.
The West End Innovation District concept forms a key tenet of Oxfordshire’s Local Industrial Strategy and its soon to be published Implementation Plan. This sets out a framework for thousands of new jobs and hundreds of new homes in this part of Oxford.
Alongside the station redevelopment, this includes:
- The redevelopment of Osney Mead Industrial Estate, being led by the University of Oxford
- The Oxford West End Developments joint venture between Oxford City Council and Nuffield College to deliver a mixed use development around Oxpens
- A new pedestrian and cycle bridge linking Osney Mead with Oxpens and the city centre
- Nuffield College proposals around the Jam Factory and the “island site” between Hythe Bridge St and Park End Street
Consultation and planning
The masterplan will include a significant amount of public consultation to arrive at a final preferred solution, with the first round of public engagement expected in late 2020. A website will also be created for the station and the wider west end developments to support this.
The proposed incremental approach to delivering the station redevelopment, alongside the latest work on future network capacity projections, requires a new masterplan. It is expected that the masterplan will be developed into a new Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to replace the existing Oxford Station Area SPD.
“Creating the masterplan for Oxford’s station is a significant step forward in delivering on our ambitions for the west end of Oxford and the wider city. The redevelopment of the station will be a catalyst for opportunities in the city and wider regional economy, including our long held ambition to reopen the Cowley Branch Line, but also our wider connectivity across the Oxford Cambridge Arc through East West Rail. The proposals that come forward will not just be rail focused, but will look to put active travel measures, such as walking and cycling, at the heart of travellers’ onward journeys, as well support a modern bus interchange.”
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council
“The work to upgrade Oxfordshire’s rail infrastructure plays an important part of our strategy to move to a net zero-carbon economy by 2050. The role Oxford will play in this is vital, not just for economic development of the city itself but as a way of enabling better connectivity with the county’s other areas of economic strength including those in a range of locations north and south as well as destinations well beyond. We are committed to developing connected infrastructure in the right places to enable sustainable growth.”
Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet member for Environment at Oxfordshire County Council
“We are delighted to be working with Oxford City Council and other stakeholders on this vital improvement work for Oxford and the wider region. This is a continuation of the work we have done over the past four years to improve services into Oxford for the benefit of passengers, freight users, and the wider economy”.
Mike Foss, Principal Programme Sponsor Network Rail
“This commission is an opportunity to reimagine the gateway to one of the UK’s fastest growing cities; supporting the region’s growth by improving rail capacity and exploring how the surrounding region can be transformed into a world-leading hub for businesses, research and development, and laboratories.
“We’re excited to get started, working closely with Oxford City Council, Network Rail and OxLEP to deliver an ambitious station redesign and urban regeneration proposal for the city and its residents.”
Ali Mowahed, Stations and Transport-Oriented Development Director at Atkins