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Protesters rail against 'tall, ugly' Uni housing
n OUTRAGED: Celebrated historian Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch joins protesters outside the Sheldonian theatre Picture: OX57474 Jon Lewis
PORT Meadow protesters took their campaign to the heart of Oxford University this week.
About 60 campaigners who say new student accommodation blocks have damaged historic views of the city demonstrated outside the Sheldonian Theatre.
They held up banners and handed out leaflets to members arriving for a meeting of the university parliament, the Congregation.
The protesters were again joined by a number of senior university figures, including Diarmaid MacCulloch, Oxford’s Professor of the History of the Church.
Prof MacCulloch, well known for his television series A History of Christianity, said: “It seems to me that the university has to change its mind. The demonstrators were doing the university a good turn because it is losing an enormous amount of goodwill over this.
“Prospective donors will also take notice of what has happened. It is very sad that the university has not suspended work. Every day it looks worse.”
The campaigners also threatened to target major donors to the university. Last night they planned to hand a letter to the internet billionaire Michael Moritz at the Oxford Union, when he arrived to talk to students.
Mr Moritz, who made his fortune through investments in websites such as Google and Yahoo, gave £75m in one of the biggest charitable donations in British history to wipe out tuition fee increases for poorer students.
The protesters want the new Oxford University graduate buildings currently under construction on Roger Dudman Way to be reduced in height by two storeys.
They have now submitted a letter to university vice-chancellor, Prof Andrew Hamilton, warning that the blocks “blot out the unique view of Oxford’s Dreaming Spires from Port Meadow”.
The letter said: “We have pointed out that the planning application was misleading and that it was not clear how tall, ugly and intrusive these buildings were going to be.”
Councillors last week urged the university to reduce the height of the buildings, despite having originally given it permission.
University spokesman Matt Pickles said: “We welcome the planning report’s finding that the university acted properly.”