Christ Church, flexing the financial muscle of its £770 million endowment (the largest of any Oxford college), has submitted planning applications to Oxford City and South Oxfordshire City Councils.
Looking to develop land north of Headington at Bayswater Brook, the proposals would involve the construction of 1450 new homes, half of which would be classified as affordable. The development would introduce another primary school, nursery and 19km of new cycle paths to OX3. Residents worry that the development may put too much traffic pressure on Headington roundabout and overwhelm the existing GP surgeries in the area.
Speaking to the Oxford Mail, college treasurer James Lawrie explained that ‘with Oxford facing a significant housing crisis, we are proud to be delivering vital homes to address Oxford City’s unmet housing need.’
He added, ‘we look forward to giving this development a distinct identity that integrates seamlessly with the surrounding landscape and will provide amenities and facilities for use by the existing communities at Barton, Barton Park and local villages to help bring the communities together through an innovative approach to long-term stewardship.’
Both Christ Church and their partner Dorchester Regeneration Ltd. stand to win an impressive contract on what the housing development industry terms “brownfield space”, should the proposals be accepted. Bayswater Brook is more commonly termed part of Oxford’s green belt. The proposed site encompasses the ecologically fragile Sidling Copse and College Pond SSSI as well as the Wick Copse Ancient Woodland and their rarity may pose a serious challenge since they are especially vulnerable to habitat collapse from increased visitor pressure. Extinction Rebellion held a ‘die-in’ in 2020 after South Oxford District Council accepted a development plan in the green belt – there is yet to have been a response by the group to the submission.
As Cherwell’s Vansh Sharma reported last month, in a city where no planning permission is granted for developments within a 1,200-metre radius of Carfax Tower that exceed either 18.2m (60ft) in height or 79.3m (260ft) above sea level (whichever is lower), big developments like this are sorely needed. But if accepted, the earliest quoted completion date for the development would be in 2034.