As has been widely publicised, consultations are currently taking place after the announcement of a preferred site for the U’s at Stratfield Brake.
We understand that fans, local residents and other stakeholders are very interested in the club’s proposals for a new stadium and we remain committed to being open and communicative on a subject which we hope excites everyone as much as it does us.
Following on from last week’s FAQs, we have answered another 10 FAQs below. This week, we are focusing on the subject of transport, parking and landscaping, green space and biodiversity.
It is imperative that this is understood to be initial, speculative thoughts on how the club will look to proceed with its proposals should the County Council agree to proceed with the lease on Stratfield Brake.
If the County Council does choose to proceed, the site would still be subject to the planning process, including full public consultation, and therefore we are not in a position to be able to make definitive commitments at this stage but wanted to provide some of our initial thoughts.
Whilst these are not firm proposals, if given permission to proceed, we are committed to upholding these principles throughout the formulation of our proposals and will seek to make them binding, and linked to planning approval (should we receive it) once we are in a position to do so.
Transport and Parking
1.How will the club manage traffic congestion near the site?
We want to be a good neighbour to any of our future potential neighbours and will take active steps to manage and mitigate the impact of any local traffic implications. Our research indicates that if clear traffic management plans are in place, running in conjunction with incentives to use public transport, traffic can be adequately managed.
It is also important to note that peak visitor numbers will only be during our home games which, on average, number 26 a year, all at non-peak traffic times. In addition, while the intention is to encourage as many of our fans as possible to travel by public transport, we are also committed to working with the local authorities and employing a dedicated traffic-management company to deploy traffic-management measures, such as road closures, traffic re-direction and parking enforcement to minimise any impact on the local road network.
As part of the planning application process, we will undertake a detailed transport assessment and produce a comprehensive traffic flow plan. We will also work with local partners to help manage traffic for local residents.
2.How much parking are you proposing to provide? How do you envision controlling this on and around the site?
There will need to be some limited on-site parking for deliveries, drop offs, disabled access, management/staff and emergency services. But the intention is for parking to be kept limited, with fans actively encouraged to travel by sustainable modes of transport. For any fans who do travel by car, the intention will be for them to park over the road at Oxford Parkway, where there are already 1,650 spaces. By developing pedestrian connections, it would take less than 10 minutes to walk from the parking, rail station and bus connections to the stadium.
It is also worth noting that Pear Tree Park and Ride is a five-minute drive and has a further 1,035 spaces. The club will consider running shuttle buses to the stadium from neighbouring park and ride facilities.
By encouraging fans to travel by train, bus, coach, cycle, walk or even canal boat (if the mood takes you), the current parking provisions, with limited additions on site, may be enough. However, a full transport assessment needs to be conducted and a detailed strategy developed to ensure this is the case. For context, MK Dons stadium has a capacity of 30,500 and is supported by 1,450 dedicated parking spaces, with the nearest train station a 30-minute walk away. https://www.stadiummk.com/visit/getting-here-parking/
There is a real opportunity to develop a ‘no parking’ stadium similar to Tottenham Hotspur https://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/the-stadium/attending-matches/getting-here/ who were recently named one of the most sustainable clubs https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/60196764
If free parking is offered, then it may have the negative impact of pushing people into cars. We would prefer to incentivise sustainable travel means by helping it cost less than taking the car. The club will consider all options for encouraging sustainable travel. An example could be by providing additional benefits such as vouchers for food/drink for fans committing to sustainable transport methods or by reducing ticket prices for the train through a subsidised ticketing scheme. The club commits to exploring measures that may be available to restrict parking in the local areas, including resident-only/permit-holder parking zones near the site.
3.How will the club ensure people travel to the site sustainably?
The intention is to connect the stadium directly to Oxford Parkway, allowing a short walk for fans from the station to the stadium. This will help limit both match day and non-match day traffic in the area. Shuttle buses and coach drop offs may allow some access directly at the stadium, subject to a detailed transport assessment.
Initial discussions have been held with Network Rail as direct access to the Oxford Parkway transport node is key. The club aims to work with the Oxfordshire Strategic Transport Forum, including the likes of Chiltern Rail, Oxford Bus Company, local councils and other stakeholders to improve public transport links with a focus on rail, bus, coach, pedestrian and cycle ways.
The club supports the Oxford Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). There is an opportunity to improve pedestrian and cycle access right the way through the proposed site, from the canal tow path to the Oxford Parkway station. By providing on-site cycle storage/parking this will significantly improve the ability for fans and day-to-day visitors to use their bicycles and feet to get to and from the site. The club are actively exploring ways to incentivise walking and cycling through ticketing schemes, on-site cycle repairs/maintenance offers and vouchers for F&B/merchandise on match days if using sustainable methods to arrive at the stadium.
The award-winning Magpie Mover is a prime example of the possible solutions available. https://networkonetickets.co.uk/tickets/magpie-mover/
4.How will fans get from Oxford Parkway Station to the new stadium? Will the club be providing a shuttle bus service?
Oxford Parkway Station is only 600 meters from Stratfield Brake. By developing direct pedestrian walk ways it is envisaged to take 5 to 10 minutes to walk. Pedestrian signage would be in place and Supporter Liaison Officers would be on hand to guide people to the correct entrance. Shuttle buses from the station would be considered, especially for supporters with mobility issues. The club will also commit to the provision of dedicated club bus services from those hard-to-reach places within Oxfordshire, and work with the current Oxford transport operators on a travel strategy in light of feedback from a detailed transport assessment. We are happy to work with the council and planners on a wider transport assessment for the area.
5.Will there be improvements at Oxford Parkway Station to facilitate increased passenger numbers?
The club have initiated discussions, and if given the opportunity, commit to working with Network Rail, the rail operators, bus/coach services, the council and our fans to deliver a transport strategy which encourages sustainable travel for both home and away fans on match days. This may include improvements to Oxford Parkway Station, but we are at too early a stage to be in a position to know what improvements may be required. We have a goal of reducing car travel from >90% to <20%. Some best-practice examples can be found here: https://bettertransport.org.uk/sites/default/files/research-files/Door_to_Turnstile_CfBT_FINAL_web.pdf
Landscaping, Green Space, and Biodiversity
6.How will impact on the Green Belt be mitigated?
We understand and appreciate the concerns with the site being within the Green Belt. We believe that we will be able to enhance the Green Belt rather than detract from it. Areas of ecological value are to be protected and where possible improved, including the Woodland Trust land and target conservation area to the West and South of Stratfield Brake. These areas of natural beauty are an asset for Kidlington and the County and need to remain as such. Sympathetic landscape design for the stadium site would help transition the development appropriately into the surrounding areas and provide additional quality green spaces allowing day-to-day visitors' continued enjoyment of the area.
7.How will site Biodiversity/Sustainability be enhanced?
We will aim for the most positive net gain in biodiversity as possible, with a minimum 10% net gain commitment. Forest Green Rovers, the most sustainable club in the world, has a 12% net gain target for their stadium build; a standard we would ideally like to beat. We hope to partner with the Woodland Trust and the neighbouring landowners and have held initial discussions with world-leading institutions for climate, ecosystems and energy to help us on our path to developing an exemplar of sustainable development befitting this location. The club have instructed a specialist ecological consultant and Bioregional Oxford to undertake initial site assessments which will form the basis for ensuring the most net-positive outcome possible.
It is our intention to enhance the green spaces by planting more trees than are lost and create a green environment that will be even more accessible and useable than it is now. These aspirations can only be turned into targets and deliverables through extensive work with external experts as part of the design and planning work should we get commitment for the site.
8.What kinds of sustainable technologies are being explored?
The goal is to develop one of the world’s most sustainable community stadiums which is in keeping with its natural surroundings and provide a community hub for Kidlington and wider Oxfordshire that the county and residents of Kidlington can be proud of. As key proponents in the drive towards a greener future, the aspiration is for a regenerative development which goes above and beyond net zero. This could include provisions for rainwater capture and reuse, EV charging, LED lighting, waste recycling, solar energy, geothermal energy to local food produce via rooftop and urban farms.
A state-of-the-art energy-capture centre (Arsenal FC pioneered this at the Emirates), rooftop and vertical gardens (similar to Wimbledon) and other regenerative methods are all being considered. Exploring a range of these technologies will also act as an educational and research tool for the wider community - a ‘living building’ working for the benefit of its locale. The club have initiated discussions with Bioregional and the ECI (The Environmental Change Institute Oxford) and are eager to ensure leading biodiversity and sustainability targets are built into the scheme from the very outset.
9. How will the club ensure wildlife is protected?
A full and detailed ecological impact assessment will be undertaken to assess if there are any habitats on site and determine any presence and distribution of species around the site, and if so, assess the size and diversity of any population. This will lead to the development of detailed and bespoke mitigation strategies to ensure any wildlife that is found can be protected. This forms part of the planning process and we hope that the development provides a platform to enhance wildlife in the area through the provision of new habitats built into the scheme and its surroundings.
10.Can you support the Green Ring Policy?
Yes, we believe we can. By working with our neighbouring sites, through sympathetic design and by carefully limiting development in some areas to acceptable Green Belt development only, such as outdoor sport and recreation facilities, we hope to solidify the ‘Green Ring’ to the South of Kidlington and create a network of accessible and enhanced linked green spaces for the benefit of the community.