Now here is an interesting approach to transforming a much loved and historic part of Oxford: first listen carefully to local heritage and community groups and then follow their lead.
The battle over Jericho boatyard site made national headlines, involving as it did occupations by campaigners, the support of big name celebrities and a classic Oxford struggle between developers, boaters and those who treasure the waterway heritage of the city.
But since then community groups, working closely together under the umbrella Jericho Wharf Trust, have been quietly working hard to develop their own scheme with the emphasis firmly on community facilities, a new boatyard and attractive public open spaces.
We know that negotiations to buy the boatyard site from the administrators are at an advanced stage and we must wish them well with any bid.
The city council — without for a minute wishing to favour any potential developer — has certainly showed itself to share many of the trust’s wider ambitions by presenting a remarkably similar vision.
The council’s planning blueprint that will go to the council’s executive board next week could not have been more helpful or timely — making clear to any future developer exactly what will be expected.
The underlying message to anyone who wants to take it on is that this complex but crucial Oxford site must be a vibrant hub of activity for local people and those with an interest in Jericho’s rich heritage.
Tony Joyce, chairman of Jericho’s Living Heritage Trust, makes the point succinctly that this must be about what is best for Oxford and not what is most profitable for a developer.
If the planning documents deters any developer from submitting a late unrealistic bid — based on packing in housing units — it will have carried out a most valuable function.
Nobody wants to go back to the drawing board or planning inspector now the council and community are broadly in agreement about what is wanted: a new boatyard, a sizeable community hall, some housing and a large public square next to the Oxford Canal.
The idea of a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists linking Oxford Station and Botley Road with Jericho, the Oxford University Press and the university’s vast new Radcliffe Observatory Quarter is particularly welcome.
Of course, it will ultimately be up to the administrators to decide to whom the site will be sold.
But the city council is to be congratulated for ensuring everybody now knows not only what Oxford wants but what it expects, and for once it is not blocks of student accommodation.