Oxford North’s central landscape, market square and children’s play area given green light

Oxford North’s central landscape, market square and children’s play area given green light

Oxford North new life sciences district

Detailed designs for Oxford North’s new central park, landscaped areas including a wildflower meadow, woodland, pond and children’s play area along with the new public square located to the north of the Red Hall, have been resolved to be approved by Oxford City Council’s planning committee.

Oxford North will deliver one million sq ft (92,903 sq m) of laboratory and workspaces, 480 new homes, hotel, nursery, cafes, bars, three public parks and infrastructure.

Oxford North Ventures, the joint venture company of Thomas White Oxford, the development company of St John’s College, Cadillac Fairview and Stanhope, submitted the reserved matters application (RMA) for the central landscape to be delivered as part of phase 1a with the Red Hall cafe-bar, retail units, community space and first two lab buildings which will target practical completion in Q1 2025.

The designs, which cover 15,401 sq m (3.8 acres), included the provision of a new parkland with amenity grassland, wildflower and woodland planting, a new pond for drainage and ecological purposes, the formation of a grass amphitheatre as a new events space, and a children’s play area.

A series of cycle and pedestrian paths will cross through the park to link the A40 and A44 to connect Oxford North to the surrounding areas which include Canalside new homes, Joe White’s Lane, the Oxford Canal and Wolvercote.

Leading landscape architect Gustafson Porter + Bowman, designed the central landscape, having previously completed projects which include Chelsea Barracks and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in London, Site Tour Eiffel in Paris, Taikoo Place in Hong Kong and The Perigon in Miami. Their design approach has been to ensure the landscape works for both Oxford and the project’s global ambitions to deliver a vibrant new place for discovery.

Sibylla Hartel, partner, Gustafson Porter + Bowman said: “It has been a privilege designing Oxford North’s central public spaces. We have focused on wildflower meadow planting, climate-resistant Mediterranean planting and a new pond, which will be a natural feature.

“The woodland area will be a welcoming space in design and visual terms, providing a natural edge to the park, with additional tree canopy cover and a positive contribution to the biodiversity net gain requirements for the site. The pond, while forming part of the overall sustainable drainage strategy and contributing to biodiversity net gain, will also enhance the Park’s visual amenity.

“To encourage walking and cycling and connectivity into the city, our new pedestrian and bicycle route through this new district will lead to Joe White’s Lane, the Oxford Canal path and Wolvercote. The new public square will be a hive of activity and the children’s play area a welcoming place for families and carers to all enjoy.”

David Camp, chief executive officer, Stanhope said: “We are focused on creating a new space and outdoor amenity which promotes wellbeing and works for not just the people who will be living and working here in the future, but also the wider community.

“Oxford North will be a place to visit and enjoy and, thanks to these detailed designs being given the green light, we can continue delivering such space to enhance the area, the overall project and people’s experience of this new place.”

Acting on behalf of Oxford North Ventures are Fletcher Priest Architects, Gustafson Porter + Bowman, AKT II, Hoare Lea, Turner & Townsend Alinea, Stantec, Savills, PFB, Reef Associates, People Friendly Design, BSG Ecology, and EDP.