Green light for new life sciences district for Oxford

Oxford City Council has granted planning permission for Oxford North.  The development of the district has been proposed by Advanced Oxford member, Thomas White Oxford (TWO), the development company of St John’s College.  The proposal is to create a new life sciences district for Oxford, to include new laboratories and workspaces for biomedical science, new homes and public parks.

Oxford City Council’s Planning Review Committee reviewed the details of the planning application and ultimately resolved to approve TWO’s planning application in December, 2019.  This has been followed by positive discussions with the City Council as the planning authority and with Oxfordshire County Council as the highways authority.  The discussions have finalised the Section 106 Agreement to ensure that the planning proposals are integrated into the local community and the infrastructure needs have been addressed.  The project will release in order of £8 million of Community Infrastructure Levy over the life of the project, which Oxford City Council will administer for infrastructure projects in the local area including projects to be identified by Wolvercote community.

The project provides for a link road, public art, children’s play areas and safer routes to school, along with a guarantee of a minimum of 35% affordable housing.


The planning approval provides outline consent for the overall 64-acres masterplan

The planning approval is for an outline consent for the overall 64-acre masterplan to provide,

  • 4,500 new jobs across circa 936,500 sq ft (87,000 sq m) of laboratories and offices,
  • 480 new housing for circa 1,500 people, of which a minimum of 35%, the equivalent of 168, will be affordable homes,
  • small shops, bars and restaurants and hotel,
  • circa 23 acres of open spaces including three new parks,
  • significant investment into the walking, cycling, bus and highway networks.

Oxford North will boost the economy by around £150 million per year.

The first phase of development

A detailed consent has been granted for the first phase of development in the Central area, which will provide 140,000 sq ft (13,006 sq m) of laboratories and office space in three buildings along with the first phase of a new public park:

  • The Red Hall will be a dynamic workspace for start-ups, entrepreneurs and freelancers, attracting spin-outs from University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University, with capacity for around 300 people to work collaboratively
  • Two connected laboratory and workspace buildings totalling 55,000 sq ft (5,109 sq m) each over four floors.  This space will provide accommodation for a range of life sciences businesses, with space for SMEs to incubate and grow, as well as facilities for global organisations looking to co-locate and thrive within Oxford’s commercial ecosystem.

Announcing this important next step in the delivery of the new district, Professor Andrew Parker, St John’s College said: “The news today that Oxford North has the green light is the culmination of many years of working collaboratively with Oxford City Council, and Oxfordshire County Council for highways, whose vision has been for the area to become home to a science and technology community, with much-needed new homes and vital infrastructure improvements. The College is heavily committed to creating a place, not just to facilitate life-enhancing science and technology discoveries, but a new district of Oxford where people want to live, visit and learn.

“Oxford North will connect and enhance the local area physically through open spaces, public art and culture, and immersive experiences. It will be a place for tomorrow’s workforce improving people’s lives, air quality and the environment while delivering a significant boost to the economy. We are proud to be investing in such a project for Oxford.”

William Donger, director, Thomas White Oxford added: “This is a significant day for Oxford’s future after many years of discussions to unlock a bold vision to transform the area to build a global innovation district for the city. We are committed to investing in a place that will enhance people’s quality of life, help to retain and attract Oxford’s remarkable talent and deliver positive socio-economic impacts.”


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