THE FIRST steps towards plans to build a 3,000-home development on the edge of Oxford are set to be approved next week.

The development would see thousandsof homes, new schools, and a new park and ride created off Grenoble Road, on the south east edge of the city, close to the Kassam Stadium.

The proposed development is being dubbed ‘South Oxfordshire Science Village’. The site is owned by Oxford City Council, Thames Water, and Magdalen College, but is on land under the administration of South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC).

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Environmental campaigners say the site, which lies between the A4074 to the west and an electricity substation to the east, is the ‘opposite of what is needed in the city’.

Michael Tyce, a member of the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “The city council’s so-called science village would be a twin tragedy; a double whammy for Oxford and the people of the city the council is supposed to serve.

“The land at Grenoble Road on which they propose to build it, land which they part-own and from which they would profit, is not just green belt but the very model of what green belt should be – countryside on the city’s doorstep with paths, and trees and views of the hills.

“And it is where open countryside of the road is most needed – just across the road from the Leys.”

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Over the road in Blackbird Leys, a planning application is due to be submitted by the end of the year for a multi-million-pound regeneration scheme that would bring over 200 new homes to the estate. The council says the Grenoble Road development will help support the regeneration of the estate.

Plans to develop the area, which was previously Green Belt land, were incorporated into the SODC Local Plan 2035 last December due to ‘exceptional circumstances’. SODC, however, has required that half of the new homes are of affordable tenure.

This means the landowners must make 35 per cent of housing for social rent, 40 per cent of houses affordable rent and 25 per cent being low-cost home ownership, such as shared ownership.

The proposal also hopes to extend Oxford Science Park on the site and provide more sustainable travel routes by reopening the Cowley Branch train line, which would allow commuters to more between the city centre, Cowley, and science centre.

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A report on the development will go to the cabinet next week with the city council saying the cabinet is expected to approve the first steps towards the joint development with Magdalen College and Thames Water.

This will allow all partners to establish key principles for joint working and agree a delivery approach.

CPRE is urging the council to reconsider the development, which they say will provide homes and ‘easy access’ for London commuters, rather than the ‘hard-pressed key workers of Oxford’.

Mr Tyce added: “This wasteful and inappropriate scheme should be rejected entirely and if the land is not left open and underdeveloped, at least a compact development with low-cost housing which Oxford actually needs should replace it.”

The planning application for the site development could be submitted in 2023.

The council said the development is necessary to meet the housing crisis.

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It added that despite the city council’s own local plan providing 11,000 new homes in the city by 2036, there are ‘still not enough homes’ in Oxford, therefore the development on the SODC boundary will help meet this need.

In February, concerns were raised about the site after some of the fields earmarked for development were flooded for three weeks in a row.

SODC said at the time that a strategic flood risk had been carried out as part of the plans for Grenoble Road.

A spokesman for SODC said: “We can confirm the land is a strategic site in the South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2035 that was adopted in December 2020.

“We expect the landowners will submit an outline application in due course.”

City councillor Alex Hollingsworth, who is the cabinet member for planning and housing delivery, said: “It’s been a longstanding ambition of the city council to develop its land at Grenoble Road, to provide some of the homes needed to meet demand for affordable housing.

“The council’s partnership with Magdalen College and Thames Water, the other landowners in the area, allows that ambition to be realised.

“The allocation of this site for just under 3,000 homes includes a requirement that half are in affordable tenures – including council homes, sub-market affordable rent and shared ownership homes.

“There’s a lot to do before a planning application is submitted, and we’ll be working hard with Thames Water and Magdalen College to put a development agreement in place and bring in a partner to help share the risks of the scheme and get the building of these new homes under way.”

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“We’re already working closely with our friends at South Oxfordshire District Council, who are the planning authority, and look forward to realising a shared vision with them for this important new development on the edge of Oxford.”

Opposition to Oxford City Council’s plans to build homes on green fields is growing, with a survey suggesting the majority of the public do not support the idea.

A survey of 192 people, conducted by the Friends of Iffley Village residents’ group, showed that 78 per cent object to development of fields in the village, which is part of Oxford.

There are also objections to council plans to build on New Hinksey Playground on Bertie Place.