Oxford City Council advances plans to deliver 3,000 home urban extension

South Oxfordshire Science Village

Oxford City Council is set to agree next steps for the delivery of a major development including nearly 3,000 new homes in an urban extension to the south of Oxford.

This week the cabinet is expected to confirm how the council intends to work with fellow landowners Thames Water and Magdalen College on plans to develop an area of land south of Grenoble Road. The council has long held ambitions to develop this site, which sits between the A4074 to the west and Sandford Brake substation to the east, to help meet Oxford’s need for homes.

The site is largely within South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) boundaries and was incorporated in the SODC Local Plan 2011-2035 adopted last December. It will deliver nearly 3,000 new homes, with 2,480 of these expected during the period of this Local Plan.

SODC’s Local Plan requires half of the homes to be affordable, with 35 per cent of these at social rent, 40 per cent affordable rent and 25 per cent low cost home ownership – for example, shared ownership.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, cabinet member for planning and housing delivery, said: “It’s been a longstanding ambition of the city council to develop our land at Grenoble Road, to provide some of the homes needed to meet demand for affordable housing in Oxford. The allocation of the land in the South Oxfordshire Local Plan and the council’s partnership with Magdalen College and Thames Water – the other landowners in the area – allows that ambition to be realised.

“The allocation of this site for just under 3,000 homes includes a requirement that half will be affordable tenures – including council homes, sub-market affordable rent and shared ownership homes. There’s a lot to do before a planning application is submitted, and we’ll be working hard with Thames Water and Magdalen College to put a development agreement in place and bring in a partner to help share the risks of the scheme and get the building of these new homes under way.”

“We’re already working closely with our friends at South Oxfordshire District Council, who are the planning authority, and look forward to realising a shared vision with them for this important new development on the edge of Oxford.”

The proposed development – known as South Oxfordshire Science Village (SOSV) – will also feature an extension to the Oxford Science Park, new schools, open spaces, community facilities and shops, as well as improvements to sustainable travel. These could include a new Park and Ride and the reopening of the Cowley branch line at the science park.

Last week Magdalen College Oxford, owner of The Oxford Science Park (TOSP), announced that it had sold 40 per cent of The Oxford Science Park to an affiliate of Singapore wealth fund GIC have entered into a Strategic Partnership to accelerate the development of The Oxford Science Park.

GIC, a global long-term investor, is taking a 40 per cent stake in the Park for an undisclosed figure. Establishment of the partnership has accelerated a major multi-building development plan at TOSP to accommodate strong demand and future growth requirements of a range of world-leading science and technology companies.

Magdalen College sells 40% of The Oxford Science Park to Singapore based global investor GIC


South Oxfordshire District Council released the South Oxfordshire Science Village site from the Green Belt during the adoption of its Local Plan for “exceptional reasons” which include providing for Oxford’s unmet housing need – in particular the need for affordable housing – close to where that need arises. While Oxford’s own Local Plan supports the delivery of nearly 11,000 new homes by 2036, this will involve building up to the city’s boundaries and will still not be enough to meet Oxford’s housing needs.

SOSV will also contribute to the regeneration of Blackbird Leys as well as providing better sustainable travel and an extension to the science park.

The council will now work with Magdalen College and Thames Water to put a development agreement in place and begin the procurement of a master developer taking primary responsibility for the planning and delivery of the site. This approach has been identified as the best fit for SOSV as it minimises financial risk and allows the landowners to influence development of the site.

A planning application could be submitted in 2023.