THIS is what Oxford University hopes Osney Mead industrial estate will look like after its £600m transformation.

The 1960s site has been called “run down” in the past, but pictures shared exclusively with the Oxford Mail reveal plans to make it a futuristic-looking ‘knowledge park’.

They also show tree-lined avenues, a “promenade” along the River Thames and a plaza on the current site of Osney Yard Depot.

The university wants to revamp the area into a site featuring laboratories for scientists alongside small and big businesses who can spin out their ideas into new companies.

More than 600 homes for graduates and staff are also planned to provide affordable housing for top talent.

  • From left to right, the estate now to what the university has proposed.

If the university wins planning approval, it hopes the 20-year project could begin by 2019. 

The scheme was hailed as a “great opportunity” by Oxford City Council leader Bob Price, who called for formal plans to be presented “speedily”.

A public consultation is being held by the university until July 22.

Professor William James, pro vice-chancellor for planning, said: “Everyone recognises this is a central Oxford site that has great potential – but is desperately in need of a major revamp.

“At the moment it is not an attractive place to visit but we hope that can now change sooner than some might expect.”

  • The Environment Agency depot where the development's proposed 'social heart' would go. 

Early work at the site is likely to focus on graduate housing – which the university says is needed urgently – but by the end of the project some 4,000 people could be working there.

The park would be split into housing and engineering facilities to the east, laboratories and start-up company offices to the south, larger companies and university buildings to the east and a main square at the north, where the Kings Centre and Environment Agency depot currently stand.

Under a ‘masterplan’ unveiled last night, existing buildings such as the university library services building, Alden Press, the Ruskin School of Art’s ‘Green Shed’, FishMarket, Borders, Oxford Calor Centre and Newsquest Oxfordshire – the parent company of the Oxford Mail – would eventually be bulldozed to make way for the new development. 

  • Top, the 'meadow' area of the development next to Bulstake Stream. Directly above, an aerial view of the proposed scheme.

City council leader Bob Price said: “We hope the university is able to move forward speedily with the project.”

The university is in discussions with several landowners and is understood to have acquired a number of sites already. 

There are also plans to build a new pedestrian and cycle link between Osney Mead and the city’s West End, where several other major redevelopments are planned at the Oxpens, the Westgate Shopping Centre and Oxford Station.

NEW BRIDGE LINK

OSNEY Mead industrial estate is set to be linked to the city centre by a new bridge. Oxfordshire County Council has won government funding worth £3.3m to fund the bridge and towpath improvements.

Work is expected to start as soon as possible following a feasibility study as the cash must be spent by March 2018.

The bridge would connect the potential new look Osney Mead site – where some 4,000 people are eventually expected to work – to the city’s West End and other major developments such as the Westgate Shopping Centre, as well as the planned new Oxford Station and Oxpens sites.

A county council spokeswoman said: “Other aspects of the scheme such as towpath bank repairs being undertaken over the summer.”