OXFORD United can continue talks with Oxfordshire County Council over the club's preferred stadium site at Stratfield Brake.

The council's cabinet this afternoon authorised officers to enter detailed discussions with the U’s about leasing the land, south of Kidlington.

The matter was discussed by members for a second time, having been deferred in January to allow time for a four-week public consultation.

United’s initial plans for the site include an 18,000-capacity stadium, community and sports grounds and hotel, retail and conference facilities, subject to planning permission.

A range of speakers expressed the full spectrum of views on the proposed development, with councillors in agreement that they needed more detail on the plans.

Exploratory talks have already begun, but approval allows discussions to progress as the club, council and its tenants look to reach an agreement in principle.

Cabinet would have to give this the green light before United could begin to seek planning permission from Cherwell District Council.

Members noted that the district council needed to share its view on the proposal, as well as asking officers to explore opportunities with neighbouring landowners.

Calum Miller, cabinet member for finance, said: “A key element of the feedback was that people wanted to see more detail. We agreed.

"For this reason, we do not think it is appropriate to start formal negotiations at this stage.

"Instead, cabinet approved the start of discussions to find out more about the detail of OUFC’s plans and why Stratfield Brake is their preferred location.

"This is not a final decision to go ahead and lease the land. 

"The Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance is committed to participatory, open and transparent decision-making.

"As such the outcome of discussions with the football club will return to cabinet for decision in full public view."

United are searching for a long-term home, with their license agreement at the Kassam Stadium set to run out in 2026.

Managing director Niall McWilliams told the meeting: "There is no opportunity for United to extend the license agreement at the Kassam Stadium beyond 2026, nor purchase the ground from the owner.

"After that, the very existence of the club comes into question."

Other speakers in favour of the move also pointed to the situation at Grenoble Road, including OxVox chair Paul Peros. 

He said: "The club is an integral part of the county's identity, but we face being homeless in four years."

Several speakers against the proposal also shared their views, including city councillor for Wolvercote, Liz Wade.

After stating that the issue has caused 'more concern than any other' in the last three years, the council member claimed the development would create a 'hole in the greenbelt which can never be repaired'.

Meanwhile, Suzanne McIvor, of the Harbord Road Residents Association, felt the results of the consultation were not representative of the community.

More than 3,700 people filled in the survey, with 80 per cent in favour - but only 818 local residents responded.

Ms McIvor said: "Out of the 3,740 respondents, 80 per cent were football fans who effectively hijacked the process."