University research facility to go ahead

An artist’s impression of what the new research facility will look like

Tony Joyce

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by

A LANDMARK decision has paved the way for a massive research facility planned for an old hospital site in Headington.

University bosses say “world-leading” medical and science research could take place in new buildings planned for the Old Road campus after an outline planning bid was approved.

Oxford City councillors approved the application for a major redevelopment of the Park Hospital buildings on the campus, bought from the NHS in August last year.

The university wants to knock down the hospital buildings and create 48,000sqm of research space over five building plots.

Oxford University spokesman Matt Pickles said the development was one of the larger ones planned by the university in recent years.

He said: “The university is delighted that the committee and local groups recognised the significance of the development of the site for medical research linking university research and clinical activity.

“Local patients will benefit from the site being located close to hospitals.

“The application is for outline planning permission and we envisage the development of the masterplan over a 20 to 25 year period.

“We do not yet have funding secured or agreed for any of the buildings on the site, although we are always actively engaged in seeking funds to develop our world-leading research.

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“As need and funding is identified we will bring forward individual buildings for approval, presenting detailed designs for each in turn.”

Now detailed planning and legal talks can take place after the proposals were agreed in principle.

At the meeting, the university was praised for its consultation with local people, but concerns were raised about the impact the 952 extra staff members would have on the site.

Labour councillor Dee Sinclair questioned proposals to use one entry and exit point for the campus and said other roads would be affected.

She said: “I have worked on this site before and I have to say that at peak times it is absolute chaos.

“The idea that traffic is going to filter purely down Roosevelt Drive is not going to happen. They will go out into Churchill Drive, I don’t see how you’re going to stop them.”

Tony Joyce, from the Oxford Civic Society, said: “It’s fair to say the residents still have some anxieties about both what’s offered already on the site and some things which might be in the future.

“We need to remember the dangers of outline planning applications, if we find we have permitted something in the wording which one regrets later.”

He added: “I would like to take that particularly as far as the height of the buildings close to Old Road is concerned. This I think is one of the residents’ real anxieties.”

As part of the development, 459 car parking spaces will be created, as well as more than 1,000 cycle parking spots.

Contributions to the local infrastructure totalling £1,169,231 have been requested by Oxfordshire County Council, including £250,000 for parking zones, £505,000 for additional spaces at park and ride depots, £128,000 to improve bus services and £286,231 to improve cycling and walking facilities.

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