A LIFELINE for Oxford's hospitals in the form of hundreds of new homes, care facilities and parking spaces could be built on fields outside Barton.
The owners of Wick Farm, a 280-acre estate near the Headington hospitals, have confirmed their intention to build 1,850 homes on land off Bayswater Road.
So far no formal plans have been drawn up but up to 200 homes could be earmarked for staff at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Landowner Harry Aubrey-Fletcher, whose family bought the site in 2012, said the firm would be handing over that section of land to OUH.
He said: "Wick Farming Ltd will be gifting the land to OUH in recognition of the world-class care our family have received over the years at the trust’s hospitals.
"This will allow truly affordable housing to be provided for our nurses, carers and other hospital staff in Oxfordshire."
The empty fields, adjoining Barton Park to the south and running along Bayswater Road, could eventually be built on if all goes to plan.
As well as key worker housing, Wick Farm and would-be housebuilder Berkeley Homes, want to build a 250-bedroom accommodation block for new students at the Oxford School of Nursing and Midwifery, which is being launched this year as a collaboration between Oxford Brookes, Oxford University and the local NHS.
To address ongoing bed-blocking problems at OUH the firms want to build a 100-bedroom 'convalescence home' providing short-term care older patients after discharge.
Extra parking could also be created to free up visitor parking capacity at the Oxford hospitals, with a shuttle bus link to Headington.
Initial meetings between hospital bosses and the developers have reportedly been positive but yesterday OUH refused to comment on discussions.
Executive director Peter Knight simply said the trust's 'infrastructure masterplan' would 'address improvements to parking and transport links to and from hospital'.
Last October the Oxford Mail reported that both Wick Farming Ltd and Oxford college Christ Church, which owns neighbouring land, had been in discussions about providing affordable housing for key workers and academics.
Plans depend on the go-ahead from South Oxfordshire District Council, which has just published its latest draft Local Plan to build 21,000 new homes by 2033, because the site is in its jurisdiction.
Mr Aubrey-Fletcher said: "We support SODC in planning for their own housing requirements with allocations at Chalgrove, Culham and Berinsfield.
"However, we believe that Oxford’s pressing housing shortage can only be met on the edge of Oxford."
The Oxfordshire Growth Board had previously concluded that land at Wick Farm was one of the most sustainable sites on which new homes could be built.
Oxford City Council planning chief Alex Hollingsworth said yesterday the council would 'support the principle that developments close to Oxford are best for meeting Oxford's housing need'.
SODC said it hadn't yet received a formal approach about the potential development.
Last month OUH chief executive Bruno Holthof revealed OUH had hoped to build five new multi-storey car parks at the John Radcliffe and Churchill Hospitals and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre.
As part of its ‘masterplan’, which is nearing completion, the trust is also looking at whether a new park and ride facility could be created outside the Oxford ring road.
County councillor Rodney Rose, who is regularly attending the Churchill Hospital for chemotherapy, has complained of long waits to park in the past.
He said: "The last I heard they were planning to create five more multi-storey car parks, and I thought it was fantastic. Build them tomorrow.
"Any extra parking would make a difference. Parking onsite makes more sense than a 10-minute walk but better staff do it than people who have had heart surgery."
It is also hoped the plans could include a new 20-acre parkland cemetery on land next to Barton Crematorium, to be managed by Oxford City Council.
Finally the developers want to ensure green space is provided for residents through an 80-acre country park to the north of the new neighbourhood.
No details on potential costs or timescale have yet been released.