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Work begins on draft plans for city's 'Northern Gateway'
WORK on a blueprint for the biggest scheme to create jobs Oxford has seen in two decades has been launched.
Oxford City Council has started working on its draft plan for the Northern Gateway development, a 100-acre scheme that will create 3,000 jobs and 200 homes.
Early plans for the scheme have identified a triangle of land between the A40, A34 and A44 near Wolvercote, along with land north of the Wolvercote roundabout and south of the A40.
About 200 homes and a business and science park will take up most of the site, but plans for a primary school and a new base for the South Central Ambulance Service could also be included in the final draft.
When built, the project will be the single biggest job-creation scheme since the redevelopment of the British Leyland site in Cowley in the mid-1990s.
City council board member for development Colin Cook, right, said: “The Northern Gateway development is hugely important for the city and will help secure a strong local economy and provide vital additional housing.
“We want to hear the ideas of as many local people as possible so that the best solution is found, not just for the new residents and businesses locating there, but for the existing communities too.”
The process of drawing up an area action plan (AAP) will take 18 months, resulting in an outline planning permission, and will be similar to the procedure followed for the Barton West development, because of the scale of it.
Consultation meetings will be held on the plan and it will then be submitted to a government inspector for approval. Work could start in 2016.
Head of city development Michael Crofton-Briggs said the council was involved in talks with landowners and that developers had already expressed an interest, but would not go into details about who they were.
He said: “It’s slightly different to Barton West in that we don’t own the land, but the landowners are on board.
“The focus of the outline application will be on an area of land shown on our map but the AAP will have a wider extent because we’re talking about this, as the name suggests, as a gateway into the city.”
He added that land currently occupied by the Pear Tree services and park and ride had been included, but may not form part of the initial plan.
He said it was hoped congestion issues on the A34 and A40 would be alleviated by work carried out as part of the county’s City Deal bid for money to tackle infrastructure issues, such as transport. That should be in place before work on the Northern Gateway starts.
Community leaders in the area have reservations about the project.
Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum vice-chairman Graham Jones said: “We have great reservations. In the initial inquiry into the core strategy, the inspector said no development should go ahead until the infrastructure was complete.
“We welcome the fact we’re being consulted, and we will try to achieve the best outcome for residents of Wolvercote.”