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