Cllr Liam Walker
The future of the yellows is at stake
As we enter into the final days and hours of the consultation process that will decide if Oxford United can enter into formal negotiations with Oxfordshire County Council about land at Stratfield Brake near Kidlington it be couldn't more important for supporters to make sure they've had their say.
Whilst I appreciate there are people who sit on both sides of the argument this decision that is expected to be made at the county council cabinet meeting in March is a big moment for Oxfordshire and our history. The decision as to whether the county council should formally enter into an agreement with Oxford United about land the county council owns will ultimately decide if this football club founded 129 years ago as Headington United will have a future.
It's no secret that the agreement with the owners of the current 12,500 capacity stadium at the Kassam has put the shackles round the ankles of the yellow ox. In order for the club to progress and have a sustainable future its officials have over the past few years been busy working hard behind the scenes on a number of options to secure a long-term future which has also included options with the current stadium. These options have now been exhausted so the club has come up with a proposal that would see it break those shackles and move to its own yellow home at Stratfield Brake.
The site just by Kidlington really does tick all the boxes for building not just a sustainable stadium and sports complex but also ensuring a sustainable future and long term home for Oxford United.
The current agreement with the Kassam is due to end in 2026 which means after this date Oxford United won't have a ground to play at. A move to Stratfield Brake would help secure the long-term future of the club and a long-term future for sport in Oxfordshire with world class facilities on offer to local clubs and organisations.
The location of Stratfield Brake would help the club move to a more environmentally friendly stadium where public transport options are far more enhanced than on the current site. Any fan who has travelled by car to the Kassam will know the area soon builds up with traffic and long delays. The new proposed site is a stones throw from the well connected Oxford Parkway station along with two Park & Ride sites with regular bus services connected to Oxford and beyond. With less parking spaces being made available at the new site fans would be encouraged to make the switch to public transport to get to match days at Stratfield Brake.
I want to remind people that this whole project is subject to the planning process that will be handled by Cherwell District Council as the local planning authority responsible for this part of Oxfordshire. There are of course lots of concerns from local residents and it's absolutely vital these are addressed as part of that planning process but to get to that stage we must first jump this first hurdle of securing an agreement on the land.
The future of Oxford United is at stake and only by fans coming together can we now make the brake. I would encourage you all not to leave it to others but make sure you give your views via the county council consultation here which is due to end on Tuesday 22nd February.
Also Ox Vox the supporters trust for Oxford United have put together this handy guide for the consultation process.