Scrapped proposal to build on Headington Car Park

Headington car park

The proposal to build housing on Headinton Car Park has been scrapped.

Headington Car Park near Waitrose (lying behind Nos. 19 to 39, and beside  Old High Street, was just one of many sites that were the subject of a huge city council consultation that closed on 22 July 2011.

The city council proposed to build car-free residential and/or student accommodation on the site of Headington Car Park, while retaining as much car-parking space as possible underneath. This proposal can be found on page 115 of the “Preferred Options – Part B (Sites)” document listed on the above consultation link, but it is pasted below for convenience:

Site 75: Headington Car Park

Site area: 0.36 hectares / 0.89 acres

Landowner [Oxford City Council] suggestions

Housing and/or student accommodation above car park

Public response to initial consultation

[The early stage consultation closed 24 December 2010]

Strong opposition to loss of car park; vital for local businesses and Waitrose and access to local facilities; buses don’t work for everyone so need parking; housing would increase traffic; building above car park would create unsafe environment; development could occur above, provided replacement car parking provided during construction; extra below ground car park should be provided/undercroft parking.

City Council Analysis

“This site is close to the Headington District Centre with its wide range of uses. It is also on the edge of a park and the edge of the conservation area. There are a number of trees on the site and those around the edges may need to be retained. There is a high potential for archaeological interest as the site is close to a Saxon burial.

The City Council’s Corporate Asset team is reviewing its car parking strategy and considers that there is potential to develop either housing or student accommodation above the car park. There was very strong opposition to the loss of the car park as people consider the car park very important for accessing facilities and shops and for the trade of local shops. There was a mixed response to the possible creation of undercroft parking.

Being such a well-used car park and clearly very important to the local community, its total loss would be detrimental to Headington. However, development of the site would make more efficient use of a brownfield site. In order to balance the needs of the local community, maintaining a vibrant community and meet the aims of making more efficient use of land, development with undercroft parking is considered an appropriate balance. Careful design would be required in order to deliver a safe parking environment.

The two options
  1. Do not allocate
    District centre car parks do not have any policy protection, so an application could come forward anyway for its redevelopment. The absence of an allocation would mean we could not ensure parking remains on the site or to guide the type of development.  
  2. Allocate for car‐free residential and/or student accommodation. Maximise level of car parking re-provided on the site   (PREFERRED OPTION)
    Landowner’s preferred uses: Promotes the redevelopment of a brownfield site. Would help deliver either much-needed housing or purpose-built student accommodation whilst maximising car-parking provision. Mixed use can respond to changes in land use needs over the course of the plan period and ensure viability and deliverability.

The proposal to develop the car park was the main topic on the first meeting of the new North-East Area Forum, held on 5 July 2011: “Residents’ thumbs down to car park plan”, and Headington city councillors David Rundle and Ruth Wilkinson fought hard against the proposal.

Headington car park

For a history and old maps of the car-park site, which used to be a market garden, see the history of the adjacent supermarket building.

Headington car park recycling bins

Other city car parks may not be so lucky. The city council has already set in motion its proposals to build on St Clement’s car park despite fierce local opposition, and is also proposing to build on the Diamond Place car park in Summertown and the Union Street car park behind Tesco’s on the Cowley Road.

Headington car park
St Clement’s Car Park
All the car parks under threat

Headington & Marston Neighbourhood Forum

© Stephanie Jenkins


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