HOPES are high that the Jericho boatyard could finally be developed as people have been given a first chance to comment on the latest proposals.
Developer Strategic Iconic Assets Heritage Acquisition Fund (SIAHAF) is close to completing a deal to buy the Castle Mill boatyard and held a public consultation at the weekend on its proposals for the site.
These include a new community centre, boatyard and housing as well as a swing bridge across the canal.
Johnny Sandelson, chief executive of SIAHAF, said: “We have been working hard to try and fit the needs of all the local groups into the design. It is essential that it is a community-driven development as opposed to a traditional residential development.
“Previous schemes didn’t strike the right balance between the community’s needs and their residential ambitions.
“We have had lots of positive meetings with the Jericho Wharf Trust and this will be a massive boost for the area.”
The centrepiece will be a public square outside St Barnabas Church leading to the canal.
A new community building will overlook the square and will contain two dry docks, a wet dock, workshops, a cafe, pre-school and a sports hall.
On the other side of the square there will be a restaurant with eight flats above, a row of 13 townhouses bordering the canal and a swing bridge linking the boatyard with the other side of the canal.
People examined the plans at a public consultation at the weekend in St Barnabas Church and the Jericho Community Centre.
Cardigan Street resident Alan Davidson said he was “impressed” by the scheme.
He added: “It is a complete transformation compared to plans that were thrown out years ago. I am pleased about the boatyard and the square and while I am not sure about how much housing is going to be affordable I am generally impressed.”
This scheme, for which a planning application is expected in around a month, is the fifth attempt to redevelop Jericho boatyard since it stopped being used commercially in 1992.
Previous attempts have either been abandoned or thrown out after planning appeals.
The last attempt was in 2007 when Spring Residential’s plans were rejected by the city council and by a planning inspector. The company went into administration in 2009.
Phyllis Starkey, chairman of community group the Jericho Wharf Trust which had attempted to buy the site, said: “There is a long way to go but we are exicted that things are moving.
“This scheme has a much greater chance of success for a number of reasons, one of which is the extremely helpful planning guidance which Oxford City Council has agreed.”
Ian Miller, 69, Mount Place “I think the overall layout is very good. I think they should improve the design of the houses but it is about right.”
Peter Darch, 76, “I am still in doubt about some things but pleased about others. I am worried about the swing bridge which is another restriction for boaters but it is generally an improvement.”
John Keyes, 57, River Thames “I think it looks viable and it is the best thing we have seen. They have done a much better job of integrating a very long wishlist.”