JERICHO WHARF PROJECT
The story so far
Jericho activists have been working on this site for 18 years
1992—Orchard Cruisers, a working boatyard ceased operations on the site which was owned by British Waterways (BW).
1993—BW won planning permission on this site for 10 houses, 2 flats, a boating shop and office, cafe, and pedestrian/cycle bridge.
1997—As BW’s planning permission looked as if it would lapse, Rosamund Catering, which has a floating canalboat restaurant applied for a temporary “landing pick up and dropping off point for narrow boat restaurant” on the site.
1997—A boatyard grows: first there were a few other boaters, employed to run and maintain the floating restaurant.; then boats began to be brought in for service and repair.
1999—The JCA suggested that a new community centre would fit well on the site. The Council agreed, as did the Church. JCA worked with Rosamund the Fair, and a developer, Metropolitan and County, to work up a proposal for the development of the site.
1999—A Canalside Development Group was established and met from 1999 to 2002, and included the JCA, College Cruisers, the Church, the Health Centre, and representatives of the City Council and the member of parliament.
1999—Metropolitan and County made a bid for the land, for a development that included a boatyard, a new community centre, and housing. British Waterways rejected this in February 2000, on the basis that they did not consider it commercially viable.
2000—BW put the site out to tender. The Jericho Community Association put in a bid for the site with a local builder Leadbitter. However, BW went for the highest bid, from Bellway Homes.
2002—The JCA secures a commitment from the City Council to use the land currently occupied by the garages in Dawson Place. But this would not be sufficient for a community centre, so the JCA proposed to BW that they provide an extra 0.1 acres. BW rejects this.
2004—City Council rejects Bellway’s planning application, one of the grounds being the lack of adequate provision for a new community centre.
2005—Bellways appeal against this decision is rejected by a Planning Inspector, partly on the grounds they they had not provided land for a new community centre. He also said that British Waterways had to provide boatyard facilities on this site or in another “equally accessible and suitable location”. Bellway does not take up its option on the land.
2005—Alchemy Boats, which had been renting vacant site for boat repairs, leaves. The site is then occupied by a group of boaters.
2006—May—BW forcibly evict the boaters provoking a storm of protest—and national press coverage.
2007—Another developer, Spring Residential, which had purchased the site from BW for £4 million applied for planning permission for a development which included land for a new community centre. Spring reached an agreement with the JCA for the contribution of a piece of land should the development go ahead .
2007— Dec—The Council rejected Spring’s application because of the the lack of provision for a new boatyard,the failure to offer 50% affordable housing, the height and design of the new buildings which were generally considered ugly; and the failure to meet environmental standards. Spring Appeals.
2008—Dec—Inspector rejected Spring’s appeal on four main grounds: inadequate replacement boatyard facilities; poor design; inadequate public square; effect on St Barnabas Church.
2009—Spring goes into administration, sinking under the weight of debts which included a £4m loan from HSBC for the boatyard site.
2009— An informal Canalside Development Group was formed by the four interested local organizations: the Jericho Community Boatyard, the Jericho Living Heritage Trust, the Jericho Community Association, and St Barnabas Church.
2010—The JCA secures outline planning permission for a community centre on the northern part of the site.
2010—With funds from from the government-backed Communitybuilders fund, and assistance from Coin Street Community Builders, the Group worked with architects Haworth Thompson to develop a masterplan which was reviewed by the local community in December 2010. The plans were also been warmly received by Oxford council, the Oxford canal partnership, local residents, and other local business and organisations.
2012—The four organizations that constituted the Canalside Development Group created a new organization through which the site would be developed – the Jericho Wharf Trust (JWT). The JWT talked with administrators of the site with a view to purchasing it, and started local fundraising.
2013—The JWT continued the negotiations with the administrators to ensure that they appreciated the constraints on the site that would affect its value.
2013—Oxford City Council prepared a Strategic Planning Document for the site. This clarified what any developer would be expected to provide on the site. In addition to a public square and bridge, this would include land set aside for a community centre and a boatyard.
2013—The administrators accepted a bid for the site from the Strategic Iconic Assets Heritage Acquisition Fund (SIAHAF). The JWT started discussions on potential cooperation.
2014—After holding a public consultation on its plans, SIAHAF submitted a planning application for the site.
2015—SIAHAF was granted conditional planning permission, but then tried to renege on its commitments for community facilities.
2016—City Council reiterated its conditions in a draft ‘106 Agreement’. SIAHAF signed the agreement.