A. See this map created by Kidlington Development Watch. The land in red is Green Belt and has recently been approved for housing development. The land in yellow is also Green Belt, and indicates where the stadium and associated development would be.
Unlike other stadiums which are built in suitable out of town brownfield locations, OUFC plan to situate their stadium, with associated commercial development, in between a nature reserve and low-rise housing, on the edge of a village.
The proposal will also impact residents of Gosford and Water Eaton and other neighbouring areas including North Oxford.
A. The land is owned by Oxfordshire County Council (OCC). It was acquired with the purpose of preserving the land as a green gap to stop Oxford’s urban sprawl from coalescing with the village of Kidlington. The land is currently leased to three tenants by OCC: (1) Cherwell District Council (CDC) (who in turn sub-lease to Kidlington Parish Council and Water Eaton and Gosford Parish Council); (2) The Woodland Trust; (3) and Foxcotte Fencing Limited. The land is currently home to Kidlington Cricket Club, Gosford All Blacks Rugby Football Club, Kidlington Running Club, as well as providing general leisure and recreation space for the local community. This article entitled ‘Guarding the Green Belt’ from the Oxford Mail describes more about its recent establishment as a sports ground, and local community asset. In 2017, the Club was told it couldn’t have Stratfield Brake as a site for its stadium, as noted in this article from the Oxford Mail.
A. OUFC has asked OCC for a 250 year lease so they can build a huge football stadium and commercial complex on 44 acres of Stratfield Brake. It is unclear at this stage whether any of the land would be transferred outright to the Club.
The Kidlington and Gosford & Water Eaton parish councils could simply say NO and refuse to relinquish their sub-leases. Our local parish councils have been put in a very difficult position. Any decision is likely to be highly divisive given the strength of feeling on both sides.
National policy says that facilities for outdoor sport can be considered appropriate but only if they preserve the openness of the Green Belt and not conflict with Green Belt purposes. It is quite clear that a stadium and commercial complex would not comply with this. The stadium would be a large and dominating structure, much bigger than the housing next to it. A comparable 20,000 capacity stadium for Brentford FC was described by the Hounslow Planning Officer as “approximately 180m long and 145m wide. Its maximum height ranges from around 14.5m up to 26.5m, which is the equivalent of a 4 to 7-storey residential building. A commercial complex will be essential for ensure the stadium is financially viable.
OUFC's plans cannot preserve the openness of the Green Belt.
Locally, Cherwell’s own Local Plan Review was adopted in 2021. Although much Green Belt was lost for new housing, Stratfield Brake remains in the Green Belt. The Planning Inspector who examined the plan said that it created “clear, defensible boundaries” to the Green Belt. Allowing a stadium and other development to be built on it would make a mockery of the local plan and the planning system.
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