Design & Development

Oxford stadium a step closer after council decision

Featured image credit: Oxfordshire County Council

Oxfordshire County Council has approved proposals for League One football club Oxford United to build a new stadium on a plot of land near Kidlington, but a number of conditions have been imposed.

The council’s cabinet today (Tuesday) approved in principle the lease of land at the ‘Triangle’ to United for the stadium, which would replace Kassam Stadium as the club’s home venue.

The leasehold for the council-owned land comes with a number of conditions, including that the club must be given planning permission by Cherwell District Council. United must also produce a net-zero plan that is fully costed and comes with clear timescales and outcomes from design, construction and full operation of the stadium.

Additionally, the club will be required to provide details of how it will meet the commitments made in its submissions to the county council so far. Restrictive covenants will also be put in place that will set aside the use of the land for football/community sports and leisure/sports stadia for the term of the lease, with limited commercial activities permitted only within the stadium footprint.

Council officers had proposed the sale of the land but following their debate at the cabinet meeting, councillors decided to opt for the leasing instead.

United is looking to move into a new home in time for the start of the 2026-27 season. The club does not own Kassam Stadium and its lease deal to play at the 12,500-seat facility expires in 2026.

Last month, the club’s efforts to build the stadium were hit by a legal challenge from environmental campaigners, but today’s ruling marks a major step forward and United chairman Grant Ferguson hailed the decision as a “fantastic result”. The stadium would have a capacity of between 16,000 and 18,000.

Ferguson added: “I’m delighted to have reached this key milestone but know we still have many more stages on the road to opening our new stadium. We have already undertaken extensive community engagement ahead of the land decision and will use the feedback we’ve received so far as part of our planning application.

“Oxford United are not only intending to build a new home for the club, but to deliver a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose venue that will be a major asset for the local community and the county of Oxfordshire. I’m excited to see our ambitious plans take shape in the months ahead.”

Councillor Liz Leffman, Oxfordshire County Council Leader, said: “We know that many local residents have concerns about the stadium, particularly around transport and parking. Officers advised us that these had not yet been fully addressed in the information provided by the club.

“The conditional agreement to lease the land is only the first step in the process and the club must now provide much more detailed proposals alongside the planning process, including addressing transport and connectivity issues. Our officers will be scrutinising these plans in detail in our statutory role as local highways authority.

“A key factor for the cabinet in reaching this decision has been to bring long-term benefit to communities in Oxfordshire. We believe the new stadium has the potential to do this by providing local employment, education opportunities for our young people, much-improved facilities for local sports groups, and securing the future of the county’s only professional football league club, which has such a positive impact on many people’s lives.”

United announced in June that AFL Architects, Ridge and Partners, Mott MacDonald and Fabrik will make up the team seeking to deliver the new stadium.