COMMUNITY campaigners are claiming victory after it was announced a masterplan is to be drawn up for the development of a derelict Oxford boatyard.
The Jericho Wharf Trust is currently locked in negotiations with administrator PwC over the purchase of the Castle Mill boatyard.
Since it ceased trading in 1992 there have been a number of failed attempts to develop the site at the bottom of Cardigan Street, but the people of Jericho have since formed the Jericho Wharf Trust (JWT) to buy and develop the land themselves.
It is now hoped that Oxford City Council’s plans will spell out exactly what can be built on the site and bring the 20-year saga to an end.
City councillor Colin Cook, the board member for city development and ward member for Jericho and Osney, said: “We are doing it to give greater certainty to the proposals which need to come forward on that site and to give greater clarity on what is needed.
"It is being done with the help of the JWT to try to move things on and increase the chances of it being developed some time soon rather than there being any more delay.
“There will be no second guessing or lengthy negotiations over what might be appropriate for the site and it will give greater clarity on the land value, but we will be taking on board all people’s views, not just those of the JWT.”
Mr Cook said he hoped the masterplan would be approved towards the end of the year.
In 1993 the then-owner British Waterways won planning permission for 10 houses and two flats as well as a cafe and boating shop.
But the development didn’t go ahead and in 2009 the land found itself in the hands of HSBC when another developer, Spring Residential, went into administration after having its proposals rejected by a planning inspector.
The JWT was formed last year to fundraise, purchase and develop the site. It is made up of the local community association, St Barnabas Parochial Church Council, the Jericho Living Heritage Trust and Jericho Community Boatyard.
In January PwC, which is managing the site for HSBC, began negotiations with the JWT over the sale of the 1.2 acre site.
Peter Stalker, a spokesman for the JWT, said: “From the community’s point of view it is a good thing because it is trying to set the development in the most positive direction.
“Clearly, the more restrictions the council places on the site the tighter the guidelines any developer will have to work with.
“It may help us in negotiations but clearly it depends on what restrictions the council manages to put on the site.”
The council is holding a consultation event at the Jericho Community Centre, in Canal Street, on Wednesday from 3.30pm to 7.30pm.