A STRIP of canalside land just 50cm long has led to disagreements over a much-anticipated redevelopment of the Jericho boatyard.
The Canal and River Trust has called for a re-design of a bridge on a small parcel of land it owns for the £20m plans for homes and a community centre.
It said a proposed swing bridge would be too close to where boats turn and the boatyard entrance and called for a fixed bridge at a higher level.
It has threatened to not give the developers permission to use the Castle Mill boatyard land, which the bridge connects to, if concerns are not addressed.
Oxford City Council is considering a planning application that includes a public square, community building, and 22 homes.
Trust planner for the south area Jane Hennell said: “The applicant has failed to prove that a bridge in this location would not have an adverse impact on the navigational safety of waterway users.
“The trust does not wish to frustrate the development of the site but it has always made clear that we oppose certain aspects of the proposal.
“The trust will withhold consent for works which will adversely affect the navigation safety of any user of the waterway or towpath. Therefore we suggest in the strongest possible terms that the applicant amends the plans to overcome our objections.”
The boatyard has not been used commercially since 1992 and five attempts have been made to redevelop the site, including for 54 flats.
Strategic Iconic Assets Heritage Acquisition Fund bought it in 2012 but the trust – which has succeeded British Waterways – kept the small parcel of land.
Fund spokesman Nick Band said it is prepared to provide a fixed bridge but this would mean one home would have to be smaller.
He said: “If would be a great shame if half a metre of soil stood in the way of realising the vision for a revitalised Jericho Wharf, but we are confident it won’t come to that.
“Although we have already spent many hours in detailed consultation over the bridge and other aspects of the scheme, we are happy to keep talking and invite the Canal and River Trust to further discussions at any time.
“This development is all about reconnecting Jericho with its canal heritage, so the trust’s voice needs to be heard.”
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