Some time in the next few months the City Council and Grosvenor, joint developers of the West Barton area, will submit their first planning applications for the development. Expect plenty of jockeying for influence. The Oxford Times carried a story on Monday reporting that current Barton residents are anxious about suggestions their doctors’ surgery and police hub may be moved from the Community Centre on Underhill Circus to new premises in the new development “up to one-and-a-half miles away”.
While it’s easy to understand Barton’s concerns, the chances are that if a new Community Centre is part of the new development it will be built close to the centre of gravity of the combined areas where it can be reached most easily by most people. A mile and a half is impossible – the furthest point of the Barton West development area (where the Bayswater Brook reaches the A40) is only a mile from Underhill Circus. The closest point is less than half a mile away (see map from 2012 draft Area Action Plan).
Discussion and debate on a major development is good. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a whole new area of Oxford. We need to get it right, and sloppy journalism (at best) and false information (at worst) won’t help.