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Creating successful 'Science Cities'

Above: Tom Bridgman, Executive Director - Development, Oxford City Council

The Executive Director of Development at Oxford City Council, Tom Bridgman, will be joining our 'Science Cities' forum this October.

Tom leads the planning, property, housing delivery, regeneration and economy functions at the Council. He is a chartered town planner and sits on the boards of Oxford West End Developments (OxWED), a joint venture between the City Council and Nuffield College, and Experience Oxfordshire, the county's Destination Management Organisation.

Previous to this, Tom worked as Assistant Director - Area Regeneration - at the London Borough of Lambeth and at AECOM as Associate Director and Senior Planner. He has degrees from both LSE and UCL.

Future Cities Forum will be discussing the growth of science districts, joined up housing and sustainable transport, as the city's ambitions expand to keep pace with the competing science developments in the 'golden triangle' of Cambridge, London and Oxford and also from international rivals in the USA and China.

Hill Group has recently announced that the green light has been given to deliver the first 317 homes at the new Oxford North development on the edge of the city, where it is hoped science companies will invest to grow their business. With outline planning permission for Oxford North's overall masterplan granted in March 2021 for 480 new homes across the project, Hill made the application for the detailed design of the first homes on Canalside, south of the A40. There will be a mix of private and affordable new homes with air source heat pumps, electric car charging points and cycle storage. The homes will be designed around a central landscaped park complete with play areas, meadow grassland, and an activity lawn. Construction is due to start this winter and provide a boost to the local economy as part of Oxford North's 'Training, Employment and Skills Strategy'.

Last week the OxWED development team put out updated Oxpens plans for the public to view at Oxford Town Hall. This will allow for more housing in a mixed-use masterplan including a hotel and new public realm.

Oxford City Council wrote:

'The proposed Oxpens scheme is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the city, transforming this under-used brownfield site and expanding the city centre. It will deliver much needed new homes (50% of which will be affordable), jobs, student accommodation, a hotel, and major new public realm, alongside new and improved walking and cycling routes.

Following earlier consultation, the updated masterplan has increased the number of homes and reduced the size of the hotel. It also now incorporates the proposed position of the Oxpens River Bridge.

'It is estimated that the scheme will contribute up to £280m annually to Oxford’s economy, spending up to £24m a year with local businesses. With extensive public transport, cycle and pedestrian links close by, the largely car-free Oxpens development aspires to become the most sustainable residential and employment location in Oxfordshire.

The updated plans will be put on display in the Town Hall and on the project website ( so that people can see how the scheme has evolved in line with the continued discussions with the local planning authority and through feedback from the two public consultations held in 2021.

'OXWED, the development team behind the proposals, will then submit a planning application to Oxford City Council.

The wider Oxpens site is the largest housing allocation in the Oxford Local Plan, and alongside other allocated sites in the local plan, and in those of Oxford’s neighbouring districts, is a critical part of addressing the city’s need for more housing. The scheme also delivers a significant amount of commercial space, addressing the shortage of high-quality offices and labs in the city centre, thereby meeting another key policy requirement for the site.

'The current proposals represent only the first phase of delivery at Oxpens and focus on land in OXWED’s ownership. It is expected that the remainder of the allocated site will come forward in future years. The proposals also complement the emerging West End and Osney Mead Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), which sets out Oxford City Council’s vision for the West End, as well as the Council’s Economic and City Centre strategies.

Oxford, like other cities in the UK, will continue to look for solutions to reducing pollution from car traffic. To mark World EV Day, last week, Oxford City Council teamed up with Wenea, Tesla, and Fastned to offer free public electric vehicle charging at the Redbridge Park & Ride Superhub.

Unlike any other UK charging hub, the site is directly connected to National Grid’s high voltage transmission network via a four-mile underground cable, which delivers up to 10 MW of power and has the capability to charge hundreds of EVs simultaneously, without putting additional strain on the local electricity network or requiring costly upgrades. The Superhub features ten Fastned ultra-rapid charging bays, twenty 7-22 kW charging bays by Wenea, and twelve 250 kW Tesla Superchargers.

The Superhub was installed as part of the Energy Superhub Oxford project, a £41m project delivered by Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables, together with a consortium of global partners and is part-funded by the UK government. Approximately 4% of vehicles in Oxford are now EVs. Projections estimate this will need to increase to 24% of all vehicles by 2026.


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