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Flats battle like ‘groundhog day’
WEST Oxford residents have described having to fight off two bids to build student flats in their streets within a matter of weeks as “groundhog day”.
Plans to turn Innovation House in Mill Street into 100 student flats were turned down at Oxford City Council’s west area planning committee on Wednesday.
But in a few weeks, a planning appeal will be heard for a proposed development of 77 student rooms in the same street.
Marshall Walker, who lives on nearby Barrett Street said: “It is like groundhog day. Each day you wake up and it’s the same thing, the process goes on and you have to start again.
“There is frustration about the inbuilt problems of the system that each planning application can only be considered on its own instead of the combined effect.”
Council officers recommended the application for Innovation House, which sits in Osney Town Conservation Area, be rejected because of the loss of business space and the development being “detrimental to the character and appearance of the building”.
Campaigner Anne James, of West Oxford Matters, said: “We are pleased with the outcome but I’m sure they will appeal.
“We’re concerned about there being too many students and the area becoming a ghetto.”
Developers HXRUK3 (Pure Office) Ltd agreed to pay £100,000 towards affordable housing in Oxford as well as £14,000 for transport and cycling measures.
A spokesman told the planning meeting replacement business floorspace had been found in Oxford Business Park and Innovation House was not a “heritage asset” in itself but simply in a conservation area.
Meanwhile developer WE Black has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate after its plans for a three-storey 77-bed building on land behind Mill Street were rejected by the city council in July.
That appeal will be heard at Oxford Town Hall on April 19.
The firm already has permission for 55 flats in a two-storey block.