Oxford City Council has approved the £20m redevelopment of Jericho’s derelict boatyard after months of disputes between residents and developers – although the plans will be subject to 45 conditions.
The new proposals involves creating a “piazza-style” public square between St Barnabas Church and Oxford Canal, surrounded by 22 new homes, a community centre, a nursery, and a restaurant. The plans also involve a new boatyard with two dry docks and a wet dock, as well as a swing bridge that will provide public access to the Oxford Canal.
These plans are the fifth attempt to redevelop the derelict site in over a decade, with the City Council previously rejecting two plan- ning applications to regenerate the boatyard.
Despite the approval of these most recent proposals, they still underwent significant consideration, with the planning committee accepting them on principal, but attaching 45 conditions. These included the amendment that ownership of the community centre and piazza square would eventually be passed to residents’ group Jericho Wharf Trust.
Labour Councillor Bob Price told Cherwell, “The Jericho boatyard site has lain derelict since the British Waterways Board disgracefully sold it off for housing ten years ago, ignoring the needs of the large canal boat population and the local Jericho community.
“The City Council successfully defended its vision of a combined boatyard, housing and public open space development on the site at appeal, and embodied that vision in a Special Planning Document as part of the Local Plan. We are pleased that we have been able to give provisional approval to the current planning application which meets most of our aspirations, but not our wish to secure 50 per cent af-ordable housing units.”
However, he continued to describe the list of conditions and legal issues that need to be negotiated and settled before the final approval can be issued and explained that the Planning Committee will meet later this year to examine those agreements before they are signed.
Lib Dem Mike Gotch was the only councillor to vote against the proposals, which were successfully passed with a vote of seven to one.
Gotch commented, “The boatyard has been in its derelict state for about ten years, and everyone involved is sick of the arguments about this or that aspect of redevelopment – there have been two previous development schemes. However, being fed up, as one might expect, is not a satisfactory reason for accepting a not unattractive but flawed scheme.
“St Barnabas Church is Grade One listed – a precious resource that may be [according to the officers] adversely affected by the proposals – we might have learned from the Castle Mill Flats development to carefully protect our listed assets – but seemingly not.”