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Go-ahead is given for work to start on flats at St Clement's
9:30am Tuesday 29th January 2013 in News
WORK could get under way in Oxford’s St Clement’s car park “at any time” after council leaders approved plans to sell the land to developers.
City executive member for finance Ed Turner has given the go-ahead for the land to be sold to developers Watkin Jones for an estimated £5m, despite protests from traders.
The company already has planning permission for 140 student rooms above the car park.
The plans were opposed by traders in St Clement’s and Cowley Road, who said the proposed loss of car parking spaces while the development is being built would harm business.
Executive member for city development Colin Cook said: “Work could start at any time.
“I would expect the developers to aim to complete by September 2014, ready for the new academic year.”
Mr Turner made his decision to sell the site in an open hearing on Friday at the Town Hall.
Addressing the meeting, restaurant owner Clinton Pugh said: “This is an opportunity to walk away from this sale.
“The development of St Clement’s car park for student housing is a hugely unpopular scheme which will have a devastating impact on the local economy and the amenity of local residents.
“Last Monday at a meeting at the East Area Forum traders expressed their deep concern about the current economic climate and its impact on businesses at St Clement’s and the lower end of the Cowley Rd.
“The development, with its consequent loss of parking, will be a further blow for the viability of local businesses.”
But officer Jane Winfield said the council was in no position to terminate the council’s contract with Watkin Jones, for which the housing developer has already paid a £300,000 deposit.
She said: “Contractually we are not in a position to do that.”
City council spokesman Louisa Dean added: “We are working with the developers to finalise the timetable for work at St Clement’s car park.
“We will be liaising with local businesses to ensure that their community is promoted while the work is carried out.”