A chance to ‘unlock’ the canalside site

The vacant canalside site

Discussions with potential developer

Posted - Oct 25, 2013

The Castlemill boatyard land in Jericho is being purchased by a private equity fund, the Strategic Iconic Assets Heritage Acquisition Fund (SIAHAF). That the site is being bought by a commercial developer is naturally disappointing for the Jericho Wharf Trust (JWT) which has also been attempting to buy the land. We are however, now actively working with the prospective owners in the hope that they can devise a development that will also meet community needs and aspirations. What might appear a setback could also be a real opportunity to fulfil this site’s potential. Johnny Sandelson, who is one of the principal sponsors of SIAHAF, says: “I am determined to work closely with JWT to “unlock” a site which has remained empty for many years.” The JWT has had initial constructive meetings with Mr Sandelson and also with his architects – Haworth Tompkins – the same company that was previously employed by the JWT to develop its own plans for the site. The challenge now is to arrive at a proposal that meets the developer’s commercial objectives but also delivers the essential planning requirements for this site. In addition to both commercial and social housing, these include a sustainably sized community centre, a sustainable boatyard, a lively public square, a bridge, and an overall quality of design that complements the distinctive character of Jericho and is worthy of standing alongside the Grade 1-listed St Barnabas Church. These requirements have been established over a series of planning enquiries, and are the subject of a Strategic Planning Document which is currently being finalized by Oxford City Council. Following the initial discussions, the intention is to follow up with a series of workshops involving the JWT and the architects to consider the possibilities. This should allow for a further progress update before Christmas. If successful, these meetings could be followed by public consultations, with the ambition of applying for planning permission early in 2014.