Work has started on a £4.9m new sports park near Horspath that will feature new football, cricket and softball pitches, practice areas, a pavilion and changing rooms.
The facility, across 39 acres of land, will include:
- Three full-size grass football pitches
- Two 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)
- Pavilion including six changing rooms, officials changing rooms, kitchen, social space and storage
- Space for Oxford United’s modular buildings
- A 150-space car park featuring 12 electric vehicle charging points
- A habitat area with pond
Work on the sports park will be completed in January 2018. The grass pitches, which will need time for the seeds to establish, will open next summer.
The new facility, funded by Oxford City Council using payments from BMW (UK) Manufacturing, will be operated by the registered leisure services charity Fusion Lifestyle.
The sports park will replace the current football pitches in Horspath Road, which are owned by BMW’s MINI Plant Oxford and were previously run by the Rover Sports and Social Club.
BMW has provided £4.9m to fund the new facility, which replaces the former Rover Sports & Social Club, on the adjoining fields in Horspath Road that are owned by the City Council.
The new facilities will also significantly improve sports provision in the area. The old Rover Sports and Social club had a provision for only 25 acres and four full-sized grass football pitches, two grass 9v9 football pitches and two small sided grass football pitches.
The current facility is used by Oxford United, and was previously also home to Oxford Cricket Club and Oxford Softball. The City Council has been in discussions with all three clubs, and all will be provided with facilities in the new development.
Oxford United are expected to use the new sports park for their Academy and discussions between them and Fusion Lifestyle are well advanced. The City Council has set aside land at the new facility for the necessary buildings and facilities.
The City Council has also been in negotiations on behalf of Oxford United with BMW to extend their temporary lease at the current Horspath Road site. The lease was due to run out in December 2017, but this has now been extended to summer 2018 – when the new grass pitches will be open.
Fusion Lifestyle will have a 25-year lease to operate the new facility and will focus activities – including competitions, leagues and new clubs – on key target groups in Oxford, including children and young people, and those who are currently inactive.
The City Council’s objective is to increase participation in sport to help tackle health inequalities across Oxford. Men in the least deprived area of Oxford outlive those in the most deprived areas by an average of 9.7 years.
Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “Working with colleagues at Plant Oxford and Fusion Lifestyle, we have produced a first class new sports facility for the city that will support both our professional football club and the many amateur clubs that are requiring increasing numbers of pitches of good quality for football, cricket and softball. I am pleased that we are able to look forward to a further boost to the city’s drive to encourage active leisure for as many people in the city as possible.”
Fusion Lifestyle is a leading registered charity, which owns and operates more than 90 high-quality community sport, leisure and wellbeing facilities throughout England and Wales. All profits generated by the organisation are reinvested in facilities and service improvement.
Tim Mills, Director of Business Development at Fusion Lifestyle, said: “We are thrilled to have started work on the new community sports facility at the Horspath Road site. We have been working closely with the Council to ensure that the facility is attractive and relevant to the people of Oxford and is financially sustainable in the long term.”
Jeremy Stoyle, CFO BMW (UK) Manufacturing, said: "It’s great to see that work is now underway to build new, high-quality sports facilities for the local community. We have worked in close partnership with Oxford City Council to help develop this project and look forward to seeing the sports park take shape in the weeks and months ahead.”