Since the announcement of Oxford United’s preferred new site for a new stadium at Stratfield Brake there have, understandably, been a number of questions from supporters regarding the proposed development.
It is vitally important that the club is open and transparent throughout the process of finding a new long-term home and we will, in due course, sit down with the Oxford United Supporters Panel and OxVox to answer a huge number of detailed questions that fans have sent in to them.
However, there are three big questions which have come up repeatedly this week and we feel it is right to answer those as clearly as we can to give fans a wider view of the proposal we are putting forward to the County Council.
Everything within this statement is subject to the County Council’s upcoming decision on the 18th January and the subsequent planning process, and we have not made any assumptions in this regard. We reiterate, the upcoming decision is merely the start of a long process.
Should we get approval to move forward to the planning phase, there will be genuine opportunities for collaborative consultation with fans, the local community and key stakeholders.
1. Who will control the ground?
Oxford United Football Club.
The club and stakeholders are agreed that there will need to be legal protections put in place to ensure that the potential football stadium is controlled by the football club now and in the future. Subject to the final negotiations for the land, this is envisaged to be for the full 250 year lease term.
Key objectives of the proposal made to the County Council include:
· that the new football stadium will be an asset of Oxford United Football Club to support the future growth and future plans of the club, both on and off the pitch;
· the new football stadium is to remain in control of the club and is not to be separated in the future;
· legal protections will be included to confirm that the football stadium will remain part of the club.
As with the Training Ground, we will work with the relevant councils to ensure that this happens in the best interests of Oxford United Football Club and the wider community.
2) On the plans that were made public, there are plans for a lot of very exciting potential developments alongside the stadium, including conference facilities and an ice rink. Are these final?
It is important that fans understand that the plans that have been seen are only ‘indicative plans’ showing a concept of what could potentially be built on the site. These are not plans that would be submitted for planning. Subject to the County Council agreeing to our proposal in principle, the plans to be progressed and ultimately submitted for planning are still to be developed.
The aim is to develop a football stadium and fantastic facilities that serve the whole of Oxfordshire, but we are a long way from actually drawing up the plans to be submitted to planning. If initial approval is given, we also will not be developing our proposals in isolation, but will look to work in partnership with the relevant stakeholders and fans in developing the proposals for the stadium as well as the facilities that may sit alongside it.
3) How quickly will it be built?
Given the club’s current lease expiry, the project timelines are vital to ensure the new stadium is available at the earliest opportunity.
For a project of this size and complexity, we are under no illusions that there will be a number of hurdles to overcome. As we said at the start, patience is key. Next week is the start of the process, and should the County Council give permission to proceed, we will look to move to the pre-planning consultation phase. We will consult and look to work closely with fans, local residents, businesses and sports clubs.
The support we have received since the initial announcement is very humbling. At the moment the thing we ask for more than anything is patience. We will continue to provide updates and information on timescales as the plans progress.
Please support the proposal, continue to support Karl and the team on the pitch, but keep in mind that we are not talking about something that can be rushed through, and in some cases the details simply don’t exist just yet.
This is the start of the exciting journey and we will absolutely keep you informed throughout the process.