FOLLOWING years of whispers and rumours, Oxford United has confirmed Stratfield Brake as its preferred site for a new stadium.

The U’s announced yesterday afternoon that a formal proposal has been made to landowner Oxfordshire County Council regarding the sports ground, south of Kidlington.

The club has asked the council to lease part of Stratfield Brake for 250 years, with a view to building an 18,000-capacity stadium, training and community sports grounds, and hotel, retail and conference facilities.

If a deal is agreed, the club will then be able to submit a planning application to planning authority, Cherwell District Council.

Read the full story: Oxford United confirm Stratfield Brake stadium plans

United have examined several potential sites for a long-term home, with the licence agreement at the Kassam Stadium set to expire in 2026.

The site is on green belt land, with the club warning it will not be a ‘short-term process’.

It is the fact the site is on green belt land which has however irked local parish councils.

Parts of Stratfield Brake are leased to Cherwell District Council and then subleased to parish councils.

Oxford Mail: Gosford All Blacks play home matches at Stratfield Brake. Picture: Kim BensonGosford All Blacks play home matches at Stratfield Brake. Picture: Kim Benson

Gosford and Water Eaton Parish Council chair Clive Stayt said he is sympathetic as to why United want to find a new home, but warned of building on the green belt.

He said: “We can understand the issues involved and why they want to leave the Kassam.

“This has been rumbling on for a while now, and this has come about as the preferred option.

“It’s a significant development for Oxford and the football club, the Kassam has been an issue over the years and this could be a way out.

“There’s a debate as to whether leaving and building a new stadium is a green way of doing things.”

Mr Stayt added that Kidlington could become ‘a bit of a cark park’ with thousands of new homes already being built, in addition to football fans flooding the area.

“The biggest issue we would have is the gap to Oxford from where we are, is seeing 4,500 homes being built,” said Mr Stayt.

“If a stadium is going there too, that’s further destruction of the green belt – that’s a strong issue from our point of view.

“Residents might also be concerned with noise pollution, light pollution and all the other issues which come with having a football stadium, such as traffic.

“With the new housing too, Kidlington may become a bit of a car park when they’re at home on a Saturday afternoon.”

Read also: Sports clubs react to Oxford United stadium possibility

Kidlington Parish Council chair David Robey added: “It’s very early stages and we are taking it very seriously.

“United are committed to local sporting activity which will help sport in Kidlington.

“This stadium would understandably raise the profile of Kidlington, but we will have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages.”

Mr Robey also expressed concern over building on the green belt and congestion problems.

He said: “The problem we have locally is traffic congestion and loss of the green belt – we’re very concerned with protecting as much of the green belt around Kidlington.

“We’ve lost some already and we’re determined to minimise future losses to the green belt, so we would have to look at that, and traffic congestion problems.

“We have an open mind about the whole thing, and there are of course advantages as well.”

Read more: OxVox chair shares view on proposed Oxford United stadium move

United were unable to comment on queries raised by the council chairs, however a club statement released yesterday afternoon highlighted that consultation will take place with residents and stakeholders.

The statement said: “The move to a new stadium will not be a short-term process and will be subject to the normal planning permissions and requirements, including wide-reaching and inclusive consultation with local residents, stakeholders and the community.

“Oxford United are committed to putting the supporters of the club, Kidlington and the wider community at the heart of discussions to bring forward plans for a new permanent home of which everyone associated with the club can be proud.

“The proposed stadium site is in a highly sustainable and accessible location, close to Oxford Parkway station, Oxford Parkway Park and Ride, and the A34, enabling fans to travel to games using alternative and sustainable forms of transport and moving away from the reliance on cars necessitated by the current location of the Kassam Stadium.”