Decision details

Decision details

Entering into Collaboration Agreement regarding Design Phase of Cowley Branch Line

Decision Maker: Executive Director (Development)

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


Cabinet, on 14 December 2022, resolved to:

1.    Approve the funding strategy and recommend Full Council to approve a capital budget of £4.56m to deliver the next phase of the project made up of:

·           Up to £289,000 up front contribution from Oxford City Council from already-secured Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funds;

·           Up to £3.5m of the costs to be funded by local landowners and then be reimbursed from CIL paid for any future development by those landowners that gains planning consent after the date that contracts are entered into;

·           At least £771,000 from local landowners and Oxfordshire County Council as a non-repayable grant contribution;

·           In the event that the submitted Levelling Up Fund 2 application seeking £4.0m is found to be successful in total or in part, the local funding arrangement described above would be reduced commensurately from one or more of the funding pots outlined above; and

2.    Delegate authority to the Executive Director (Development), in consultation with the Council’s Section 151 Officer, the Head of Law and Governance, and the Cabinet Members for Health & Transport and for Finance & Asset Management to agree financial contributions and terms, and then enter into all relevant funding agreements and contracts.


Oxford City Council entering into a multi-party Collaboration Agreement with Advanced Research Clusters GP Limited, The Oxford Science Park (Properties) Limited, and Ellison Oxford Limited (the Landowners), in order to bring together the local funding and project oversight required to deliver the Design Phase for the Cowley Branch Line.

The Design Phase of the project comprises two parts:

1.    detailed design work to be undertaken by Network Rail for the rail infrastructure (known as PACE Phase 2 in rail industry terminology); and

2.    design-led studies to be procured which will relate to improving the connections to and the from the proposed two new stations, (termed the Infrastructure Place Study for this project.

The funding comprises £565,000 of non-reimbursable “Risk Capital” as well as a further £3,500,000 capable of reimbursement by Strategic Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contributions from the Landowners.

The Collaboration Agreement sets a number of terms, to include the process by which contributions towards project costs incurred will be made to Oxford City Council by these parties on an agreed schedule, subject to review and alteration at a joint Programme Panel. It also sets out the scenarios in which and process by which CIL payments would be reimbursed to these parties and how the parties will work together to successfully deliver the project.

Reasons for the decision:

This decision enables the Oxford City Council to also enter into contract (by a separate decision) with Network Rail in order to deliver rail and station infrastructure work for the PACE Phase 2 stage of the Cowley Branch Line. Also, following future procurement processes to be undertaken, this decision will enable supporting design work on improving the connections to and from the two proposed stations to be developed.

Alternative options considered:

Separate contracts for each funder is an alternative, but given the need to work together, with joint oversight of the work through a Programme Panel, it was agreed that a single contract binding all parties together was more appropriate and efficient.

Signed off by senior officers:

Decision taken by Tom Bridgman, Executive Director (Development) in consultation with Carolyn Ploszynski, Head of Regeneration & Economy; Nigel Kennedy, Head of Financial Services; Marcia Ecclestone, Deputy Monitoring Officer; Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Health & Transport; and Councillor Ed Turner, Deputy Leader (Statutory) – Finance & Asset Management.

Publication date: 25/03/2023

Date of decision: 24/03/2023

Effective from: 29/03/2023

Accompanying Documents: