Oxford City Council and Nuffield College have appointed Bidwells and JLL to go to market seeking a development partner for a 1 million sq ft mixed-use development at the Oxpens site in the heart of Oxford.
The partners said the site offers the opportunity to transform the largest remaining development area in the city centre and provide a vibrant community, with the potential to develop 1m sq ft including homes, commercial uses and public space, close to the river and rail station.
The Oxpens scheme has come about following the formation of a joint venture company by Oxford City Council and Nuffield College. The company, Oxford West End Developments (OXWED), acquired land from London & Continental Railways and Oxford City Council, to clearing the way for a development partner to deliver a masterplanned city centre mixed-use neighbourhood. Fielden Clegg Bradley was appointed during 2016 to prepare a proposed masterplan for the development.
The joint agents believe there is likely to be strong developer interest given the limited development opportunities in the historic city. Oxpens sits in prime position almost opposite John Lewis, between the new Westgate shopping centre and Oxford railway station and adjacent to a 500-unit scheme by Student Castle that was granted planning consent earlier this year.
A development partner will be appointed in spring 2018 to deliver a mixed-use scheme which could incorporate uses such as residential, offices, hotels, retail, and leisure. The Oxpens development is a strategic priority in the Oxford City Deal and the Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan, unlocking major private sector investment and providing a significant contribution to the regeneration of the city’s West End.
Bidwell’s senior partner Patrick McMahon said: “This is a fantastic site to be marketing to the development community. It offers a chance to deliver significant mixed use development at the heart of Oxford on a scale unseen before in the city.”
Over 80% of Bidwells’ work is concentrated in the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Oxford, Cambridge and London, including sector-leading work in the science and technology and education sectors.
In February 2016 the potential £200m mixed-use scheme for the centre of Oxford moved closer following the purchase of key land in the Oxpens area and the signing of a historic joint venture between Nuffield College, Oxford and Oxford City Council.
The was land was acquired from the government’s London & Continental Railways and Oxford City Council.
The acquisition ended years of uncertainty over the Oxpens area and complements Nuffield College’s acquisition of the Jam Factory and Island Site from Christ Church in 2015.
The Council has stated that the Oxpens development is a strategic priority in the Oxford City Deal and the Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan, unlocking major private sector investment and jobs as well as delivering significant wider benefits.
In August 2015, the site’s then owner London & Continental Railways began re-marketing its Oxpens Road site after preferred partner Exemplar walked away from a sale that would have seen the site added to adjoining land to create a major scheme in the university city.
A limited number of developers which previously expressed interest in the site, together with Oxford City Council which owns the adjoining land, were invited to bid for the 7.9-acre site.