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Campaigners target Prince Charles visit
10:30am Friday 1st February 2013 in News
TAXPAYERS could be left with a bill of more than a million pounds if permission for controversial student blocks on Oxford’s Port Meadow is revoked, it was warned last night.
Protesters, who are planning to lobby Prince Charles during his visit to Oxford on Monday, say the flats should never have been allowed and claim they spoil views from Port Meadow.
They want building work to be stopped and the height of the buildings reduced.
But in a new report, planning officers say there is “no evidence” that the development breaks planning conditions.
It warned the compensation claim could amount to more than £1m if the council revoked the permission and that it would not prevent Oxford University from applying again.
Head of planning Michael Crofton-Briggs said: “There is no evidence that the development is being constructed other than in compliance with the planning permission, or that any other breach of planning control has taken place.”
Protesters are determined to bring the issue to the attention of the Prince Charles who is renowned for his forthright views on “brutal architecture”.
Campaigners have already contacted Clarence House to alert the Prince before his visit about the student accommodation blocks nearing completion in Roger Dudman Way.
But they will seek to cause maximum embarrassment with demonstrations and banners calling on the university to lower the height of the blocks by two storeys.
With 1,700 people having signed an on-line petition, the Port Meadow campaigners are this week applying further pressure by writing to university donors, spelling out levels of anger about the four and five storey Castle Mill scheme, providing 312 student rooms.
Campaign organiser Toby Porter said: ”Given that Prince Charles has always spoken out about the kind of impact of this kind of ill-thought out architecture on cherished spaces, we are looking at ways of making him aware of the controversy during the visit.”
The Prince is scheduled to visit the Said Business School, just 800m from the accommodation blocks, and to the church of St John the Evangelist in Iffley Road.
Oxford University spokesman, Matt Pickles, said: “We recognise the campaign and the strength of feeling around the development.
“Castle Mill will reduce the burden on Oxford’s rental market by providing accommodation to hundreds of students.”
On Thursday, February 7, the city council’s West Area Planning Committee will review options open to the council in the face of public concern.
Clarence House yesterday declined to comment.