Planning permission given for £4.9m sports park

Published: Thursday, 2nd February 2017

Planning permission has been given for the City Council’s new sports park at Horspath Road that will feature new football, cricket and softball pitches, practice areas, a pavilion and changing rooms.

The new sports park will be funded by the City Council, using the payments made by BMW Mini to reprovide the sports facilities previously belonging to the now defunct Rover Sports and Social Club. The park will be designed and operated by the City’s leisure services social enterprise partner Fusion Lifestyle.

The facility, across 39 acres of land, will include:

  • Three full-size grass football pitches
  • Three 9v9 grass football pitches
  • Three mini football pitches
  • Six small-sided and flood-lit 3G football pitches
  • Two 7v7 flood-lit 3G football pitches
  • Two grass cricket pitches
  • Four softball diamonds (summer only)
  • Modern fit-for-purpose pavilion facility that includes six changing rooms, officials changing rooms, kitchen, social space and storage
  • Space for Oxford United’s modular buildings
  • A 150-space car park         
  • A habitat area with pond

The City Council is also assessing the feasibility of developing a closed-circuit 1km cycle track in association with local cycling clubs.                                

Planning permission was granted by the City Council’s East Area Planning Committee at a meeting last night (1/2).

The new facilities will replace the current football pitches that are on land owned by BMW’s MINI plant. Oxford City Council has been working with BMW to re-provide the facilities in the adjoining fields that are owned by the City Council.

BMW (UK) Manufacturing has agreed to provide £4.9m to fund the new project to replace the sports ground that was previously run by the Rover Sports and Social Club.

The current site covers 25 acres, features four full-sized grass football pitches, two grass 9v9 football pitches and two small sided grass football pitches. It is used by Oxford United, Oxford Cricket Club and Oxford Softball.                                                                           

The City Council has been in discussions with all three clubs, and all will be provided with new facilities in the new development. Land has also been set aside for Oxford United’s buildings.

The new sports complex is 39 acres and designed to meet club needs and also to provide facilities for the community. Fusion Lifestyle will focus activities, including competitions, leagues and new clubs, on key target groups of Oxford’s residents, including those who are currently inactive, and with a special focus on children and young people.   

Oxford City Council has a corporate objective to increase participation in sport. This is to tackle health inequalities in Oxford, with men in the least deprived areas of Oxford outliving those in the most deprived areas by an average of 9.7 years.

Work will start on the new facility in March 2017, with the artificial pitches and pavilion due to complete in January 2018. The grass pitches, which will need more time to bed down, will be open in summer 2018. The lease the City Council took out from BMW to extend the time Oxford United were able to use the current facility expires in December 2017.

Fusion Lifestyle, a registered charity that runs other Oxford City Council sports facilities including the Leys Pools and Leisure Centre, Oxford Ice Rink and Hinksey Heated Outdoor Pool, will have a 25-year lease on the site.

The developer contribution from BMW (UK) Manufacturing will be decided at a separate East Area Planning Committee meeting next Wednesday (8/2).

Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “It is great to get the green light from the planners so that work can start immediately on developing the new sports park.

“I would like to thank BMW for their help and support in realising this tremendous new asset for the people of the city. For our local football, cricket and softball teams it will become a real hub of activity and we hope that the cycling circuit can also be included as there is crying need for off road cycling provision in the area.”

Tim Mills, Fusion’s Director of Business Development, said: “We are delighted that planning permission has been granted for this fantastic new sports park and we look forward to working with the clubs and with the local community to create the new facilities and then ensure that as many people as possible are given the opportunity to enjoy using them.”