WORK on the major redevelopment of Oxpens could start in 2016, the leader of Oxford City Council has said.
Bob Price said the local authority was negotiating with the six other bodies which own parts of the 20-acre site. Most of it is owned by the council itself and the Department for Transport (Dft).
Council officers say they could use compulsory purchase orders to ensure development goes ahead, though Mr Price claims it is not currently in his plans.
The council’s partnerships and regeneration manager, Fiona Piercy, said: “Through the City Deal the council has agreed with DfT that the council will bring the Oxpens site to the market in 2015 to seek a development partner.
“This requires an arrangement which places our land under a single control and provides for a fair, transparent allocation of value and uplift between the parties.
“The council is providing draft proposals to DfT shortly and this is due to be agreed by summer this year. The remaining land interests will be brought into the development either by negotiation and mutual agreement, or failing this through compulsory purchase order.”
The Oxpens site, between Westgate Centre and the Thames, is seen as a top development opportunity. It is expected the site will include houses and flats, offices, research and development space, a hotel and public square, with Oxpens Meadow preserved.
Mr Price said the development could not realistically go ahead before 2016. He added: “It all depends what happens with our discussions with the landowners but that’s my best estimate.
“We are not discussing compulsory purchase orders and if or when they might be used.”
Housing association GreenSquare owns the Richard Grey Court flats block on the site.
Phil Bowley, head of regeneration at GreenSquare, said: “We are pleased to be working with Oxford City Council to support their aspirations for Oxpens, and to negotiate a way forward that does not involve compulsory purchase of our homes.”
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