Employment land for up to 9,000 jobs together with a link road and sports stadium could be created to the east of Aylesbury under plans by a council-led consortium.
The Aylesbury Woodlands development, between the Grand Union Canal and the A41, would also include 1,100 homes – many of which could be self-built by individuals along the same lines as Graven Hill in Bicester.
It is being put forward by development agency Bucks Advantage, which includes the county and district councils as its members and which has entered into a development agreement with the farmer who owns the land.
The scheme would pay towards the building of the southern part of the eastern link, so that by 2019 it would be possible to drive from the Woodlands roundabout on the Aston Clinton bypass to the A418 just outside Bierton without going into the town centre or using Broughton Lane (the Stocklake road would also connect in the middle).
Chief executive Richard Harrington said: “This will be a gateway for Aylesbury, there is the opportunity to do something prominent. There will be elements of housing in it but this is an employment-led scheme. It will be a significant regional employment hub.”
He added: “There is great capacity for sport and recreational uses. We would really like to work closely with Stoke Mandeville Stadium and its Paralympic heritage and incorporate that into the scheme. It would be fantastic to have a stadium, something up to 1,000 seats.”
When asked if the stadium could also be used for football, he replied: “It would be great if it featured disability sport and, equally, was accessible to able-bodied sport. A mix of the two would be a fantastic outcome given what I’ve said about putting something back into the community.”
He said there would be 1.5m square feet of employment land, split into industrial, storage and distribution and office zones.
“It is a public sector entity promoting this land but the benefit of that is we can target parts of the economy that need assistance because we are not exclusively profit driven.
“We are really keen for the employment offer to match the employment portfolio in Bucks. We are keen to grow the 1-5 employee businesses into 10-20 employee businesses and beyond so part of the scheme will target that.”
He added that there will also be larger plots available for bigger firms to occupy.
“Our agents are saying there is a great deal of interest because in the South East there is a deficit of larger sites available, particularly on an owner-occupier basis.”
Mr Harrington said Bucks Advantage was not competing with the ‘volume house builders to the north and potentially to the south’ of Aylesbury.
“We will think very hard about the residential offer. There is some really interesting stuff coming out of Bicester in terms of self-build. There is the opportunity to do something different. We want this to be an exemplar and high quality scheme. We are not trying to develop every square inch of land. We don’t want to compete with the housing developers. We want to produce a more rounded offer for Aylesbury.”
A consultation on the plans will be held next month and it is hoped a planning application can be submitted by November.
Mr Harrington said government funding of £12m which will pay towards about a quarter of the cost of the Stocklake and Eastern link roads depended on ‘being on site ASAP, later this year or next year’ which is why the plans have been released prior to the district council’s local plan being completed.
“We have a very clear timescale from government’ he added. He said the ‘only way’ to ‘facilitate’ the roads was by ‘securing consent and offering development land to the market’.
Mr Harrington said he knows ‘there are concerns about coalescence and capacity’ regarding development in and around Aylesbury. But he said Bucks Advantage would work with existing communities to ‘come up with the best solutions’.
He denied there was a conflict of interest, given that the councils behind the venture will also be judging it as a planning application.
“In this sense they are wearing a developer hat, but they also have a statutory function in terms of planning. There is a very clear line of division between the two.”
Aylesbury Woodlands was first put on the drawing board 12 months ago.
Project manager Paul McKim said: “It is still at concept stage. We have got further work looking at various mixes of development. Before we start doing that we want to hear the views of people and build them into it.”
The development, which could take up to 20 years to complete, would be on a largely flat site. It is bounded to the south by the A41. To the north is the Grand Union Canal; to the east is the Arla dairy and county council waste transfer station. To the west is the existing urban edge of Aylesbury, including the residential area of Broughton. The site covers an area of approximately 220 hectares.
The first public consultation meeting will take place on Saturday, July 11 at Anthony Hall, Aston Clinton between 10am and 4pm.