Large and ambitious construction developments can never escape controversy when they are first revealed to the local community.

People understandably are concerned about how their daily commute to work could be delayed by large construction vehicles and no one wants the surprise of realising their once picturesque garden view will soon have its sunlight blocked off.

Change can be daunting; particularly when you buy a house based on its surrounding environment at the time.

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The difficult tangle councillors and planning officers must navigate is how to balance residents’ legitimate concerns about new builds with opportunities for job creation and growth.

The Oxford North development has been criticised by councillors and many more, with a resident’s group describing the Red Hall as a “monstrosity” which was only slightly less complimentary than Wolvercote’s councillor Jo Sandelson calling it “ugly”.

However, if you put aside differing opinions about Oxford North’s design, it must be recognised the development is a genuine opportunity for Oxford to be at the very centre of advances in emerging fields such as artificial intelligence.

Not only have 4,500 new jobs been promised but these will be in sectors which will be critical to our country’s economy for generations to come.

There are plenty of places in the UK where students complain about the lack of exciting and well-paid jobs in their back yard so should we complain when developers are willing to channel their ambitious visions into a bare and unused site in North Oxford?


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If working in a laboratory isn’t a career goal, then attention should be turned to the new restaurants, bars and cafes which will pop up.

Greater choice when browsing the internet trying to work out where to take the family for a weekend treat must only be a good thing.

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Three new parks will also be opened up to the public for them to meander through, and it has been promised that community events will be able to utilise these spaces.

With the Cowley Road Carnival being cancelled at short notice this year, the promise of new open spaces provides plenty of scope for music gigs and cultural events to be held which inject a buzz and life into a development which is easy to characterise as mundane and dull at first sight of its designs.

Prof Michael Wooldridge, a leading AI expert at Oxford University, recently told The Oxford Times the university’s research was unrivalled in the UK. But he also highlighted that more needed to be done to plug the skills shortage in the sector.

The facilities at this development will give children across the city greater access to a field which may seem intimidating and inaccessible at first glance.

Many of these emerging sectors involve jobs which seem daunting in terms of their complexity because they raise so many questions about the future.

But if Oxford has the opportunity to be at the forefront of these scientific and technological advances, then it should be grabbed with both hands.

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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.

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