The emerging scale of a new science and innovation district has sparked fears of traffic ‘gridlock’ at an already congested junction.

Oxford’s £700m life sciences district Oxford North is being built on a 64-acre triangle of land near the A34 between the A40 and A44 north of Wolvercote roundabout "to keep the students and talent in the city". 

Currently under construction are two laboratory buildings next to the A40 and the central Fallaize Park, which will be the same size as London's Trafalgar Square, and the five-storey Red Hall.

thisisoxfordshire: The Red Hall at Oxford North

Once complete the development will contain one million square feet of laboratory and workspaces, 480 new homes, a hotel, nursery, cafes, bars and three public parks.

Around 4,500 people will work there alongside 1,500 residents.

Wolvercote councillor Jo Sandelson said construction traffic was already a danger to other vehicles.

She said: “The general view from Wolvercote is Oxford North have failed so far to create a link road big enough for vehicles of 7.5-plus tons so they all use the Wolvercote roundabout, endangering general traffic with its six exits and clogging up all the northern access roads into and out of the city."

She said "a more thought out re-routing of the traffic system would be welcome by commuters" and added that at present it can take up to 10 minutes to cross the Wolvercote roundabout on foot or by bike.

"There must be a better way," she said.

thisisoxfordshire: Oxford North under construction

Wolvercote councillor Steve Goddard said he could not understand how the area would cope with a potential 2,200 extra commuters.

He said: “I've never seen how the traffic generated by Oxford North can be accommodated by the existing road network without considerable congestion, and the development has no obvious features which will help deal with this."

The councillors also criticised the size and scale of the new extension to the city.

Ms Sandelson said: “The Labour-controlled city council gave the green light to this whole sorry development, which will be completely overbearing both structurally and visually in this part of Oxford."

Mr Goddard agreed "the development as a whole is overbearing”.

Oxford North Ventures, owned by Thomas White Oxford (TWO), the development company of St John's College, and two other companies, was granted planning permission for the next three buildings a year ago.

These will be Fallaize Street with three incubators - small companies sharing a lab technician or resources - and further laboratory buildings plus an HQ lab in the centre are due to be completed in 2026.

Local resident John Mair said he wondered who could afford the 207 homes at Canalside Quarter by housebuilder The Hill Group, which were unveiled earlier this month.

thisisoxfordshire: Canalside Quarter at Oxford North

TWO has agreed that 35 per cent of the planned 480 homes - less than the usual 50 per cent required by Oxford City Council will be 'affordable'- but that could rise if the development proves more profitable than expected.

"I imagine they will be expensive," he said, adding: "It’s designed obviously to be a science city – the Oxford version of the Cambridge science park.

"Surely it will be quite a sterile environment won’t it. Where’s the community? It reminds me of an industrial estate, split by a very busy road."

The developers said they are "creating a whole ecosystem" which "is not meant to be a closed place but is absolutely an open new extension of the city for everybody".

Fallaize Park with its children's playground and grassed amphitheatre will host pop-up events, the Red Hall will contain a town hall space for use by the community and the canalside public park will be a place Wolvercote residents can enjoy.

thisisoxfordshire: Cycle Pavilion at Oxford North

There will be a timber cycle pavilion with a bike repair shop and the site will have over 500 cycle spaces with showering and changing facilities, promoting active travel.

A spokesperson for Oxford North said: “We are building a new sustainable district for Oxford purposefully designed to enable the next century of life-changing discoveries in science and technology.

"With major advances converging like never before, we need spaces that help convert opportunity into reality.

"We’re introducing new labs and workspaces, surrounded by public parks, amenities and public art for people living, working and visiting here.

“As part of the planning process, transport was fully considered by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council as highways authority.

“We are promoting active travel including improvements to both the A40 and A44 for safer cycle routes and delivering a new timber cycle pavilion for safe cycle storage for people who work here and visit.

"We have enhanced the A40 and A44 road infrastructure and will be contributing to local bus services including significant funding for a new bus route from Eynsham to Headington and Cowley via Oxford North.”

She added: "As approved by Oxford City Council, Oxford North is delivering a minimum 35 per cent affordable housing for the 480 new homes.

"The first 317 homes are being delivered by The Hill Group on Canalside Quarter which has an agreement with OX Place for the affordable homes."