Thomas White Oxford kickstarts Oxford’s new life sciences district

Thomas White Oxford, the development company of St John’s College, has submitted its enabling works reserved matters application (RMA) to kick-start Oxford North, the new life sciences district for Oxford.

Image showing the enabling and landscape works as proposed in Thomas White Oxford’s reserved matters application.

This follows the recent news that Oxford City Council has granted planning permission for outline consent for the overall 64-acre master plan and detailed consent for the first phase of development in the Central area.

The RMA application covers earthworks, sustainable drainage ponds, landscaping and related initial infrastructure required for the new link road construction between the A40 and A44 for the first phase of development in Central which will provide 140,000 sq ft (13,006 sq m) of laboratories and workspace in three buildings along with the first phase of the new public park.

The application seeks approval for the initial enabling works in Central and Canalside, north and south to the A40 and west of the A44.

The application covers:

  • Earthworks across Central and Canalside to provide suitable development platforms as phase 1 comes forward to ensure that material from the site can be re-used within the application boundaries and will not need to be taken off-site and disposed of. The works will provide gentle grading between the existing and proposed land levels to ensure that the level changes sit comfortably within the surrounding landscape
  • Provision of attenuation ponds and swales – two ponds will be delivered which are designed to have fluctuating water levels as water passes through following periods of heavy rainfall before being slowly released. Grass mixes that are suitable for areas of intermittent flooding are proposed. The outfall will provide for suitable attenuated connections to the adjacent watercourse
  • Provision of substations – in order to supply electric power to phase 1a laboratories and workspaces, three substations will be provided
  • Services – as part of the initial infrastructure and enabling works, relevant services will be laid as part of the earthworks
  • Landscaping – temporary and permanent landscaping will include approximately 295 metres of native hedgerow planting and in Eastside, alongside Network Rail’s Oxford and Oxford Parkway line, a double row of native hedgerow planting will enable early growth
  • Reseeding of the landscape will follow earthworks’ completion to stabilise the surface and create an aesthetic outlook for those passing and occupying the initial phases
  • An interim maintenance plan will cover regular trimming and watering as required and regular litter picking
  • A biodiversity construction environment management plan was submitted as part of the hybrid planning application which sets out a series of measures to ensure appropriate ecology protection. The proposed works will be carried out in accordance with this plan.

In addition, a series of planning conditions attached to the hybrid planning permission will be submitted alongside the RMA including for the link road between the A40 and A44:

  • Construction traffic management plan for which Oxfordshire County Council as highways authority has been consulted
  • Surface water drainage scheme
  • Construction environmental management plan

William Donger, director, Thomas White Oxford said: “This is about kickstarting our investment into the project, local area and the city to prepare the site for Oxford’s new life sciences district. There has been significant consultation with Oxford City Council, and Oxfordshire County Council for highways, to ensure that the works proposed accord with the parameters assessed as part of our environmental impact assessment. The proposals will enable future development parcels to come forward without further significant earthworks being required.

“With Oxford experiencing high demand for lab and workspace from small, medium and large research companies and institutions, these works will enable us to start phase one to provide world-leading sustainable space to facilitate jobs and life-enhancing science and technology discoveries.”

Acting on behalf of Thomas White Oxford are Fletcher Priest Architects, Stantec, Townshend Landscape Architects, Savills and Gardiner & Theobald.

Application number: 21/01053/RES

Further information about the project can be found by visiting www.oxfordnorth.com.