Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) Cabinet Meeting (24.01.23) update:
We’re delighted that Cllr Calum Miller answered our call for clarity on Stratfield Brake, finally confirming that it’s off the table for commercial development! Fantastic news for FoSB, and
everyone who has campaigned to protect this precious local green space.
This time last year we were being told that the commercial development on Stratfield Brake was necessary to fund the stadium. This begs the question of how the stadium will be paid for
without it. One for the Club to answer….
As you are aware, OCC has suggested the Triangle as an option and will now be entering into lease negotiations with the club. But despite the perception of the press and the fans, the Club does
not have a green light to build its stadium there. They have many hurdles to overcome, not least time pressure. We remain convinced that the Club is going to need Plan B. We
strongly oppose the Triangle and will continue to challenge this proposal all the way, and for as long as it takes.
Cabinet should have heeded our calls (and those of our MP) for an appropriate local consultation at this stage, but we have been assured that OCC will carry out its own consultation in due
course. It's vital that this next round of consultation is conducted in an appropriate manner so that it captures the views of local people in Kidlington and North Oxford who will be most
Sadly, this important decision received only limited debate at the meeting, with only Cllrs Middleton and Miller providing any discussion of relevant facts related to decision-making. For the
most part, other Councillors, from distant Divisions regaled us with details of personal connections to the Club. One Councillor was delighted to have received emails from OUFC fans based in
‘Seattle, Sweden and even Swindon’. We expect our Councillors to listen to the views of local people above those from outside Oxfordshire.
Whilst it was wonderful to hear the wealth of community-based initiatives associated with the Club, we note that residents in Kidlington apparently benefit from these anyway, despite not living
in the shadow of the Kassam. Presumably, the Club will bestow these benefits on any community wherever it’s based, so we’re not sure this really advances the debate. It was a glaring omission
that no member queried how exactly the community based around the current stadium might be impacted by the loss of these facilities and benefits, and the continued lack of joined-up thinking with
Oxford City Council is concerning.
Our speakers questioned Cabinet on what we see as critical issues which need addressing such as the biodiversity of the site, and the principle as to whether OCC should be negotiating the private
commercial development of our Green Belt contrary to its own land use strategy and any Local Plan. Whereas Cllr Liam Walker denounced the Triangle as ‘not used’ and having ‘no value to the
local community’, we beg to differ. We regard this land as a valuable resource for local people as we lose more and more green space to development. Under planning law, "Very Special
Circumstances" will be needed to justify inappropriate development on the Green Belt. And there is no doubt that a football stadium is inappropriate.
We couldn’t have done this without our supporters, and we’ll continue to do our best to support your views. We’re sorry we haven’t had time to reply to the kind messages we’ve received. Thank you
and well done to everyone who answered our call to action. We will do everything we can to protect our green spaces - but we can't do it without you!