Community campaigners have welcomed plans to revitalise a former boatyard in Jericho but have called for a larger public piazza.

The proposals by Cornerstone Land and the Jericho Wharf Regeneration Company were outlined at a public exhibition last summer and a formal planning application has now been submitted to Oxford City Council.

The scheme includes a mixed use development with a new boatyard and there will also be a new community centre with a cafe, sports hall, dance studio and spaces to rent.

The former community centre building will also be included in the scheme and converted for housing.

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The second phase will include a pre-school and additional meeting rooms and offices needed to complete the community centre and ensure that it is financially sustainable.

Developers say there will be a mix of residential units including townhouses, and flats, including affordable housing, and a new piazza will be created adjoining the west facade of St Barnabas Church, together with a new pedestrian bridge across the canal.

Community-led group The Jericho Wharf Trust said it was looking forward to working with developers.

JWT Chair Phyllis Starkey says: “We are delighted to be working with Cornerstone. As a local partner, they can help drive this much-needed project to completion.

Oxford Mail:

Phyllis Starkey

“The Canalside site represents a unique opportunity to provide urgently needed facilities within a scheme that can enhance both Jericho and Oxford as a whole. The Boatyard will give critical support to Oxford’s boating community. And the current emergency has highlighted the importance of safe social activity in a modern community centre.”

Ms Starkey added it was important for Jericho Wharf to include a vibrant outdoor public space.

She added: “We believe that the proposed ‘piazza’ will not deliver this. It is too small and oddly shaped to accommodate many standard street stalls, for example, or offer sufficient space for concerts or other public events.

“The encroachment by private housing also makes the piazza less welcoming for passers-by and diminishes the essential view from the canal of the Grade I-listed St Barnabas Church.

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“The piazza will also be affected by the flow of pedestrians, cyclists and disability scooters across the canal bridge. The bridge design incorporates a stairlift but will clearly need a well-qualified assessment to consider the impact on the piazza, and ensure that the proposed bridge meets everyone’s needs.”

The design statement for the planning application said: “All of the main interested parties (the developers), Oxford City Council and the relevant stakeholders Saint Barnabas PCC, and Jericho Wharf Trust share the same aspiration to see a start on site and the beneficial redevelopment of the site at the earliest possible opportunity.

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“Fundamental to the success of this revised application proposal is that both the community and private elements of the scheme are developed simultaneously.

“This avoids a situation where the delivery of one or other element is negatively impacted by substantial ongoing construction activities that overlap with occupation, and block any successful implementation of the scheme.”

The Jericho Wharf Trust is supporting this approach.

Oxford Mail:

St Barnabas Church

It added: “Phase 1, which is to be built by the developer, would comprise most of the boatyard but only around half of the community centre. Phase 2, which will be funded by the JWT, would offer the rest of the community centre – adding the pre-school and the meeting rooms and office spaces that can ensure that the Jericho Wharf project as a whole is financially sustainable.”

The Jericho Wharf site has been derelict since the site was sold by British Waterways in 2005.

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In the intervening period two planning applications for apartment-based schemes have been refused and subsequently turned down at appeal.

A £20m vision for the former Castle Mill boatyard site was granted planning permission in 2016 but proposals stalled after a £500,000 bridge was added.