Plans for a major development including around 3,000 new homes to the south of the city took another step forward after their approval by Oxford City Council on Wednesday.
With initial agreement on key principles and procuring a master developer in place, cabinet has now agreed to set up a limited liability partnership (LLP) as the best way of working together to deliver the proposed development – known as South Oxfordshire Science Village (SOSV).
The council already has an LLP with Grosvenor Britain & Ireland for the building of 885 homes at Barton Park and another with Nuffield College for the redevelopment of Oxpens. The benefit of the LLP approach is that members have more flexibility in how new developments are delivered, as well as being more transparent for tax purposes.
The three SOSV landowners aim to complete the drafting of the LLP agreement and incorporate the partnership this year.
Cabinet has also agreed £1.056m to fund staff and consultancy costs for three years from 2022/23. This includes a loan of up to £0.5m to cover the operating costs of the nascent LLP.
“Since October, we’ve been working hard with our fellow landowners Magdalen College and Thames Water. Although there’s a long way to go, cabinet agreement on establishing an LLP means we are now a step closer to realising our collective vision for around 3,000 homes, new jobs and facilities and better, more sustainable travel at SOSV.”
Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, cabinet member for planning and housing delivery
The council has long held ambitions to develop the SOSV site, which sits between the A4074 to the west and Sandford Brake substation to the east, to help meet Oxford’s need for homes.
The site is largely within South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) boundaries and was incorporated in the SODC Adopted Local Plan 2035, adopted in December 2020. It will deliver around 3,000 new homes, with 2,480 of these expected during the period of this Local Plan.
SODC’s Local Plan requires half of the homes to be affordable – with 35% of these at social rent, 25% First Homes, 25% affordable rent and 15% shared ownership.
The development will also feature an extension to the Oxford Science Park, new schools, open spaces, community facilities and shops, as well as improvements to sustainable travel.
SODC released the SOSV site from the Green Belt during the adoption of its Local Plan for “exceptional reasons” which include providing for Oxford’s unmet housing need – in particular the need for affordable housing – close to where that need arises.
While Oxford’s own Local Plan supports the delivery of nearly 11,000 new homes by 2036, this will involve building up to the city’s administrative boundaries and will still not be enough to meet Oxford’s housing needs.
SOSV will also contribute to the regeneration of Blackbird Leys as well as providing better sustainable travel and an extension to the science park.
The council anticipates that a planning application will be submitted by the end of 2023.