Thank you to everyone who supported our call for a parish poll at the Annual Parish Meeting on 30 March 2023. This was an extremely difficult decision for FoSB and residents who lent their support. It was a very challenging meeting for all concerned. We stand by our decision that all Kidlington residents should be allowed to vote, in a secure way on the following question:
‘Should Kidlington Parish Council support the building of a stadium for
Oxford United Football Club in Kidlington?’
Why did FoSB call for a Parish Poll?
- Kidlington Parish Council’s duty is to represent residents. The stadium is a massive proposal which significantly impacts all residents. Opinion is deeply divided. An advisory parish poll will allow Councillors to test residents views. The poll results should help shape their future decision-making as more details of the proposal become available.
- OCC’s online survey on Stratfield Brake from March 2022 showed most residents were AGAINST OUFC’s stadium coming to Kidlington, but OCC’s Cabinet allowed the Stratfield Brake proposal to proceed anyway: WHY?
- The proposal has progressed to an advanced state already: OCC is busy discussing heads of terms with OUFC to dispose of the Triangle WITHOUT properly consulting residents first.
- OCC is not planning a secure consultation for Kidlington residents on the Triangle site, but another online survey open to the whole County and beyond. The survey won’t be secure so the results will be unsafe.
In short, we believe it must be put formally on record as soon as possible whether Kidlington residents are in favour of the principle of a stadium here or not.
Shouldn’t we wait for detailed plans before consulting?
Let us be clear: the best time to stop the stadium is BEFORE OCC agree to lease the land, not wait until it gets to the planning application stage.
OCC should consult residents on the principle of allowing a major commercially driven infrastructure project on their doorstep. This is publicly owned Green Belt land that should be protected from development. We received letters through our doors telling us about proposals to change Kidlington Roundabout, merger of Kidlington and Gosford & Water Eaton parishes and Botley Solar Farm. OCC has never written to local households about this. Why not?
OUFC has already had over 3 months to produce an outline drawing to indicate the size and shape of its proposed stadium on the triangle site. Niall McWilliams failed to show plans at the Annual Parish meeting and offered very little new information.
By the time OUFC come up with detailed proposals they will want to submit a planning application to Cherwell District Council as soon as possible. The further the proposals go the harder it will be to halt the process.
But surely we can’t make a decision until we know what we might be getting?
We think residents already know enough to take a view on the principle of a stadium.
- this will be an 18,000 capacity stadium (well over the total population of Kidlington);
- it will likely fill the entirety of the Triangle site with minimal parking;
- the Club will (at least partly) rely on existing transport infrastructure;
- the stadium footprint will incorporate commercial development (probably including a wraparound hotel and major conference facilities);
- this is not appropriate development for the greenbelt and the stadium will be close to residential areas;
- there will be a significant loss of biodiversity;
- the stadium has to make money and so will be used for other purposes throughout the year;
Residents will be able to comment on the detailed draft proposals once they become available.
But this isn’t this a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ to get ‘community benefits’?
We want to see improved ‘community benefits’ for Kidlington – but the stadium can’t be the best or only way to get them. Niall McWilliams assured us that there may be space for a ‘temporary’ cinema, or space for kids to do cycling proficiency training etc etc. He also offered improved pitch management and cost efficiency savings at Stratfield Brake. OUFC certainly do a lot of good in for local communities and causes. But Niall also made it very clear that the securing commercial revenue takes priority. The negatives far outweigh the positives.
But don't our young people need upgraded sports pitches ?
We agree: this is extremely important for our growing population to have easy access to such basic facilities. Yet why should our community be forced accept a massive commercial development on Green Belt just to get these?
Kidlington should start exploring alternative funding options without delay. Girlguiding Kidlington recently completed their meeting hut rebuild through a combination of fundraising, donations, grants, and a loan from CDC. Let’s not forget also, do OUFC actually have to be located within our parish to provide help to our local kids?!
Could this backfire on FoSB?
No. It is in everyone’s interests to measure the strength of feeling for or against the stadium. The parish poll is advisory but the parish council – and OCC - should take note of the outcome.
It will be vital to get as many residents as possible to vote so that the poll is a fair representation of opinion. If most residents don’t want the stadium, then OUFC should look at alternative options.
Was FoSB right to call for a parish poll?
Yes. We were left with no other option.
Calling a parish poll is a fundamental democratic right that is enshrined in modern law. The Parish Council confirmed at the AGM that there are ample
funds already set aside for stadium consultations. The poll will not divert money earmarked for other council services. Kidlington last held a parish poll 35 years ago, when residents
overwhelmingly voted to stop the parish council’s plans to for it to become a town.
The stadium proposal is the largest and most divisive challenge Kidlington has faced in years.
Residents have a right to be heard.