VILLAGERS have helped design a new community on their doorsteps.
The blueprint released for the Wolvercote Paper Mill site includes about 190 new homes, a village green and community pavilion.
The scheme also promises a nature reserve, GPs’ surgery and the clean-up of the paper mill’s reservoir. Jobs would also be created within small-scale workshops and new stores.
A minimum of 50 per cent of the homes would be affordable and 75 per cent of the homes two and three-bedroom.
Oxford University, which owns the site, said the masterplan incorporates wishes of local people, who contributed to the designs during an innovative consultation process last month.
The university will not itself develop the paper mill site and intends to dispose of it next year.
But it says it wanted to create a masterplan to attract buyers and “establish as much certainty as possible” for local people over the future of the site.
The site would be effectively divided into two halves with 12.3 acres next to Lower Wolvercote given over to housing and employment units, and 4.4 acres bordering the A34 redesigned as a public open space.
Recreational facilities include woodland walks and a tennis court, while residents would have access to water meadows and the Thames, with open spaces connecting the Mill Stream with the existing Wolvercote village green.
The idea of creating a hydro-electricity generator on the Mill Stream to create on-site energy is also actively being explored.
The company behind the masterplan, London-based Turnberry Planning, said the development would generate just over one additional car per minute during the morning rush hour along Godstow Road.
John Bleach, chairman of Wolvercote Neighbourhood Group, said: “People here feel that their voices have been heard by the designers. We do not have a problem with 50 per cent affordable houses. People say they just wish a way could be found to give locals priority for the new housing.”
But Mr Bleach warned the site saw serious flash flooding five years ago, while the existing drainage system was inadequate for existing housing. He said there were also concerns about noise levels from the A34, while too large a health centre would add to traffic flow.
Wolvercote city councillor Mike Gotch cautioned that a new community would seriously add to pressure on the local primary school, already being expanded after concerns about shortages of places.
The paper mill, which ceased operations in 1997, was demolished in 2004. The following year the university unveiled a £40m scheme to build 200 homes for its staff on the 17-acre site, which was later dropped.
A planning application is due to be submitted next month.