A £700 million global innovation district being built on the edge of Oxford will “replicate Silicon Valley” in creating opportunities and create 4,500 new jobs. 

The Oxford North development beside the A40 and A44 at Wolvercote roundabout, will be “an exciting technological and scientific hub at the vanguard of innovation”, a leading consultant behind the project revealed, insisting it would bring huge benefits to the city.

Groundwork on the 64-acre site is underway with construction already providing 251 new jobs and six apprenticeships.

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Oxford Mail: Design for the new developmentDesign for the new development (Image: Spacecraft Consulting)

It is expected to inject £150 million into the local economy each year.

In March 2021, a large distinctive central building dubbed the Red Hall was granted planning permission as part of the first phase of development to deliver one million square feet of laboratory and workspaces, 480 new homes, a hotel, cafes, bars, three public parks and a nursery.

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With advances in technological innovation and life sciences at the heart of this ambitious project, Tom Storey, Oxford North’s social value consultant, said the work was a “huge opportunity” for a mixture of small start-ups, entrepreneurs, and big tech companies to establish themselves in the city.

Oxford Mail: Construction works are well underwayConstruction works are well underway (Image: Ed Nix)

He said: “Silicon Valley is huge and this isn’t of the same scale, but where it does replicate the American tech hub is in terms of its potential and opportunity.”

Mr Storey guaranteed the new lab space would be a chance to plug the skills gap in “emerging and future fields” such as artificial intelligence.

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Having spoken to sixth form students from Summertown’s Cherwell School and from the City of Oxford College, Mr Storey said young people recognised the world was “changing at pace”.

Oxford Mail: Construction siteConstruction site (Image: Ed Nix)

He believes this development would offer an opportunity for them to stay in Oxfordshire as opposed to fleeing to cities such as London.

He said: “We want local people to get these jobs which require talented people.”

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Mr Storey said the project will continue to work with colleges and Job Centre Plus to ensure people were aware about the vast number of job vacancies on offer.

At the Red Hall, there will be space for 350 starts ups and Mr Storey promised that a minimum of 20 per cent of these 4,500 new jobs will be given to workers from Oxford.


Oxford Mail: Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here (Image: Newsquest)

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Oxford Mail: Works taking place at construction siteWorks taking place at construction site (Image: Ed Nix)

The site will also host community events at the three parks and on the 23 acres of open space.

The first phase of the building works – which is set to be completed early next year – includes the A40 and A44 works, the building of the Red Hall and the construction of 319 fancy Canalside homes, which will include a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom apartments.

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Out of these 319 homes, 35 per cent will be allocated as affordable housing and a nursery will be opened on site to accommodate families with young children.

To deal with the pressures of greater traffic, the contractor Carey’s has started upgrading the stretch of road between Wolvercote roundabout and Peartree, and a new link road will connect the A40 with the A44.

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It is not yet known which restaurants and hotel will be moving into the development.

Oxford Mail: Design for the development (The Red Hall)Design for the development (The Red Hall) (Image: Image: Spacecraft Consulting)

The development has not been without controversy and Liberal Democrat city councillor for Wolvercote Jo Sandelson has previously told The Oxford Times the Red Hall building is “big and bad and ugly and red.”

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She said: “It was called Red Barn originally and looks like something from a glossy Disney animation.

“When the red paint fades over time it’ll appear like the barn in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

“And that will be without the dollops of bird mess rained down over the years.”

Others have expressed concern at the destruction of the green field site.

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However, Oxford City Council Leader Susan Brown said the development was an “exciting prospect” which only promised to give a boost to Oxford’s status as the fast-growing economy in the country.

She said: “It is always difficult with new developments and people are often resistant, but I think we are extremely lucky in Oxford to have the fastest growing economy in the country and that is a very nice problem to have.”

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With the project committing to providing both affordable housing and jobs for the local workforce, Ms Brown said the council had negotiated hard with the developer to ensure a project was approved which works for the entire community.

The project is being delivered by joint venture commercial development partners Thomas White Oxford, St John’s College development company with Cadillac Fairview and Stanhope and the residential development partner The Hill Group.

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About the author 

To sign up to Ed's weekly Politics newsletter, click here: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/newsletters/

Ed specialises in writing political stories for the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times. 

He joined in the team in February 2023, after completing a History undergraduate degree at the University of York and studying for his NCTJ diploma in London.

Ed’s weekly politics newsletter is released every Saturday morning.