Opponents brand 'useless' university trees plan to conceal 'dreadful' accommodation blocks (From The Oxford Times)
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Opponents brand 'useless' university trees plan to conceal 'dreadful' accommodation blocks
10:00am Friday 23rd August 2013 in News
CAMPAIGNERS say they are sceptical about Oxford University’s plans to plant more trees to reduce the impact of the “dreadful” Castle Mill student development at Port Meadow.
The eight buildings, which are now virtually complete, will provide accommodation for 312 postgraduate students. They were criticised by residents claiming they block the famous “dreaming spires” view of Oxford from the historic meadow.
Two new reports are to be considered by Oxford City Council – one dealing with the planting of more trees and another addressing contamination. But Binsey resident Alison Cobb said: “The buidings have done no end of harm and planting trees is more or less useless.
“If they took the two top storeys off and did some proper tree planting that would be slightly better.
“But the poplars they have planted will never grow big enough.”
Jericho resident Toby Porter, who is campaigning for the buildings to be lowered, said: “Of course screening represents a marginal improvement.
“It’s still dreadful, and we know that in three months’ time we have half a year without any cover at all.
“It doesn’t restore the lost views of Oxford, it simply blocks the buildings.”
A judicial review into the planning approval has been launched and the city council has begun an independent inquiry into the planning approval process in February 2012.
In the meantime the university and the city council have been looking at blocking views of the buildings from Port Meadow.
City council spokesman Chris Lee said: “The council has carried out some planting along the Castle Mill Stream.
“These are semi-mature trees and the species were chosen in close consultation with a wide range of interested parties.
“This planting does not represent a final landscaping solution, however.
“The university has also made proposals for planting. These proposals have been assessed by the council’s independent landscape advisers and council officers.
“A report on the proposed planting will go to the west area planning committee in due course.”
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