Questions and answers

Key information about the Jericho Wharf project

The Jericho Wharf Trust is a registered charity formed by four local groups.

  • The Jericho Community Association - which runs the current community centre;
  • The Jericho Community Boatyard - which represents the boaters;
  • The Jericho Living Heritage Trust - which campaigns on issues relating to Jericho’s distinctive heritage and legacy;
  • The St Barnabas Parochial Church Council - which represents the interests of the Church.

Most of the Trust’s Board members live in and around Jericho, or are boat dwellers. They have a wide range of experience and expertise, and have the vision, passion and skills to deliver what is needed in this unique location.

The latest planning application has been made by the Jericho Wharf Regeneration Company, which is based in Hong Kong, in partnership with Cornerstone Land which is based in Begbroke, Oxfordshire.

The developer will pay for and construct the boatyard and the shell for Phase 1 of the community centre, the developer would finance this from the sale of private housing on the rest of the site. The Jericho Wharf Trust would then raise the funds needed to fit out the community centre and build Phase 2. However the JWT plans to raise all the funds in one exercise, in which case there would be no need for phasing.

The JWT, or one of its members, could have the freehold for the boatyard and the community centre. The developer will sell or lease the commercial houses, and appoint a management company to provide services to the commercial houses and maintain the bridge. The management company can also work with the JWT for organizing events in the public space.

This is the land to the north of the square which currently comprises three adjoining plots.

  1. The Dawson Place garages site owned by the City Council – around 680 square metres.
  2. Land covenanted by the Canal and River Trust to the Jericho Community Association – around 450 square metres.
  3. Land owned by the developer which it can use to fulfill the planning obligation of space for a boatyard – around 540 square metres.

The Jericho Wharf Trust will combine these three plots to create an integrated community-owned development. Other land on the site which would form part of the square is owned by St Barnabas Church.

The community facilities will be owned and administered by the JWT. The Trust will lease the boatyard to the Jericho Community Boatyard which will employ an experienced manager. The Trust will lease the community centre to the Jericho Community Association which has successfully run the existing community centre for many years. These organizations will  manage day-to-day operations. The JWT itself will manage events and activities in the square.

The community in and around Jericho, the people of Oxford, and the boating community across the country.

This is the last opportunity in Oxford for a public space by the canal. This innovative development will include a public square, a community centre and cafe, a business hub and a community boatyard, along with affordable housing. Jericho Wharf will bring much-needed facilities to the area. This part of Oxford is socially diverse. As indicated in the 2011 census, more than 70 per cent of land-based households are renting, and around one-third of children, and one quarter of older people, are considered to live in income-deprived families. This development will support the physical and mental well-being of the community in Jericho and the rest of Oxford. It is also an opportunity to avoid further over-development. Over recent decades, developers have stacked hundreds of houses along the canal but have built scarcely any supporting facilities – private or public. Living on the canal allows low-waged people, such as teachers or social workers, to stay in the city. Among those living on canal boats, more than two-thirds have an annual income of less than £20,000, and one-fifth have less than £5,000. At present there are no boatyards within five miles of Oxford. The boatyard in this development will allow people to maintain their boats in an affordable DIY environment, helping to sustain Oxford’s boating community. Jericho Wharf will thus bring together different groups of people who are currently geographically close but often socially distant. It will provide them with much-needed opportunities for practical, educational and creative activities of all kinds.

Jericho Wharf will be a truly exceptional place where everyone from within and beyond the diverse community that is Jericho can come and find interest, enjoyment and learning.

The plans encompass a new, affordable boatyard and a purpose-built community building – with a public space/piazza leading from the beautiful St Barnabas Church to the Oxford Canal. Surveys of our land- and water-based residents have identified the proposed facilities as important. The City Council has also established them as essential requirements in its planning policies for the site. However the plans at present show a piazza that is too small.

Jericho Wharf will have a: 

Boatyard – This will have one wet-dock and two dry-docks, together with one workshop for professional use and another for DIY shared use. There will also be a chandlery and storeroom for the supply of essential boating paraphernalia such as mooring pins, ropes, sealants and paints. Other facilities will include a launderette for use by boaters and others. 

Community Centre – This will be a community focal point with a ground-floor café that can spill out onto the public square. The centre will have multi-purpose halls for community gatherings, and sports and fitness activities, and exhibitions. These halls can also be hired out for private events such as wedding parties. Smaller rooms can be used for adult learning classes, for meetings and for art and music activities. There will also be a pre-school with an outdoor play area, as well as an exhibition space to showcase Jericho’s rich history and heritage. On the top floor there will be an office hub for local small businesses. The new building will replace the ageing, three-storey Victorian Church Institute building which is used for the current community centre and cannot viably be adapted to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act. 

Public square – In a beautiful setting between the canal and the Grade-1 listed St Barnabas Church, the square will be the heart of the development – a focal point that will host a wide range of community activities such as markets and open-air concerts. The square will also have a commercial restaurant on the south side. Housing – The development will have 22 new homes ranging from one-bedroom flats above the restaurant to four-bedroom townhouses with roof terraces overlooking the canal. Nine of the units will be affordable - for ‘social rent’. 

Bridge – This is not part of the current application, but the JWT is working with the statutory authorities to explore ways to reintroduce the idea of a fixed pedestrian bridge across the canal directly into the square.

The JWT will continue to work hard to ensure that the community facilities are built. When the plans have been finalized the Trust will raise the necessary funds. Then when the development is complete the JWT will manage the community facilities by leasing the boatyard to the Jericho Community Boatyard, and the community centre to the Jericho Community Association. The JWT will also organize activities and events in the public square.

The Council must ensure that this development meets community needs and aspirations. It needs to ensure that the transfer agreement for community facilities between the developer and the JWT is on fair and reasonable terms.

For developments of this kind The City Council’s policy is for 50 per cent of the houses to be affordable.The developer argues that the proportion should be smaller – zero in the most recent application –  since they are contributing to community facilities.

The Jericho Wharf site is close to Isis Lock, where the Oxford Canal meets the River Thames – a location of huge significance within the national waterways network. The canal was built as a route from the Midlands to London, and was one of Britain’s first four trunk canals

After great initial success, for 150 or so years the canal suffered a long, slow decline, but is now being revitalized. This development is a chance to ensure the future of this site as the place in Oxford where the land- and water-based communities meet.

Jericho and the canal have many artistic associations. They have featured in works by Thomas Hardy, John Betjeman, John Wain, Colin Dexter and Philip Pullman. Jericho was also home to the first gigs of Radiohead and Supergrass.

Assuming planning permission is granted, work on the canal elements of the site could start in the autumn

The JWT will control the community facilities and take overall responsibility for operations and their long-term maintenance. For this purpose it will issue operating leases for the boatyard and community centre. These leases will include terms that ensure that the operators deliver community objectives.

Jericho Wharf will provide a vibrant new focal point where people of all ages can meet — through sports or classes at the community centre, perhaps, or just a cup of coffee in the cafe. It will allow people to see a working boatyard in action and understand Jericho’s canal heritage. It will create opportunities for new businesses. It will offer a new outdoor pace for concerts and public events. Above all it will demonstrate that new developments in Oxford can be exciting, innovative and community driven.