Environmental campaigners have launched a legal challenge to the county council’s consultation which asked the public for their views on Oxford United’s potential stadium move.

Oxford United is locked in talks with Oxfordshire County Council over its proposal to build a new stadium at an area of land known as the ‘Triangle’, which is east of Frieze Way and south of Kidlington Roundabout.

The proposal was put forward by the League One club due to its licence agreement at the Kassam Stadium running out in 2026.

The county council’s cabinet will need to make a decision on whether the club can acquire the ‘Triangle’ at a meeting on September 19.

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Oxford Mail: The TriangleThe Triangle (Image: Contributed)

However, the stadium move has provoked criticism from householders in north Oxford who told the Oxford Times they feared “the overdevelopment juggernaut” could not be stopped and many are worried about “noise” and “environmental destruction”.

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Oxford Mail: Kassam StadiumKassam Stadium (Image: Oxford Mail)

The campaign group strongly opposed to the club’s relocation to the 'Triangle', Friends of Stratfield Brake, has revealed the law firm Leigh Day has sent an initial judicial review pre-action letter which accuses the council of running an “unlawful” consultation.

The group said the legal challenge was funded "entirely by donations from generous residents who feel the county council is letting down the community badly".

Victoria Campbell, founding member of Friends of Stratfield Brake, said the legal challenge was a “last resort” as they had done their “utmost to persuade the council to reconsider the format of the consultation before it started”.

She said: “The survey should have been designed to collect in a secure manner the views of those groups who could be significantly impacted by the proposed major infrastructure project on their doorstep rather than an online survey which is open to all.

“We have seen evidence that United supporters conducted an organised campaign to publicise the survey to professional football clubs across the country to boost support for the proposals in a clear attempt to influence the outcome.”

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Friends of Stratfield Brake has accused the council of not providing sufficient information to the public regarding the proposal and it is also concerned that respondents outside of Oxfordshire responded to the public consultation.

The council has emphasised that drop-in exhibitions were organised at local community venues and these sought the public’s opinion on the club’s response to seven strategic priorities, which included environmental and ecological priorities.

The spokeswoman also said leaflets were dropped within a two mile radius of the 'Triangle' and people outside of Oxfordshire were able to respond to the public consultation as postcodes were asked for.

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Oxford Mail: The TriangleThe Triangle (Image: Contributed)

Suzanne McIvor, another founding member of the group, said the county council needed to “explain precisely” why the club had lost the option to renew their previous licence agreement until 2046.

She said: “Why is this council using Oxfordshire taxpayers’ money to fund a proposal which is ultimately for the financial benefit of the overseas based investors who control Oxford United?”

A council spokesman said the club had sent detailed information about its licence agreement at the Kassam Stadium, but documents had been disclosed on a commercially sensitive basis and so could not be published.

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A county council spokesman confirmed it had received a judicial review pre-action letter and it will be “responding to the letter in due course and in the time frame agreed with the representatives’ solicitors”.

The council said it would not be appropriate to provide further legal comment on this matter at this present time.

Oxford United has been approached for comment.

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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.

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