Tall storey

First published in Leader

Given the sheer number and scale of its building schemes in the heart of the city, Oxford University and its colleges have had a reasonably untroubled ride.

How Oxford Brookes, locked for so long in a costly planning battle over its new library, must look on enviously as the old university moves forward with unprecedented construction plans.

Even Oxford University’s Castle Mill graduate accommodation scheme ruffled few feathers when it went before the city council’s west area committee. The site was on unused railway land, outline planning permission had been granted as long ago as 2000 and wasn’t the university responding to council and resident demands for more purpose-built accommodation? But only as walkers have watched the blocks slowly rise, has the scheme’s full impact on treasured views of the city dawned. Some, like Oxford Civic Society chairman Peter Thompson, are honest enough to say they took their eye off the ball.

Others, like the Green Party, say the council’s examination was nowhere near rigorous enough, with the impact on views played down and the need for an environmental impact assessment overlooked. The anger, even among some senior university members like Sir Fergus Millar, is real, with people astonished that no one paused, in recognition that Port Meadow is so special to so many. It is unlikely the university will revise its plans at this late hour. Discussion now will centre on trees and landscaping, and even the need for a Green Belt review. But the university and Town Hall would be unwise to simply shrug that everyone stuck to the planning rules. Much trust in the city’s planning process and goodwill towards the university has been squandered for the sake of an extra storey — something that can be ill-afforded with so much more in the pipeline.

Comments (1)

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9:16am Fri 2 Nov 12

Toby Porter says...

An important leader, about a truly disgraceful development and planning process.

Concerned Oxford residents

a) can sign a petition complaining about this development

http://www.thepetiti
onsite.com/850/008/8
30/port-meadow-oxfor
d-damaged-views/

b) write, email or call to give your views a key person in the development and seemingly non-transparent planning approval process to express concern - Murray Hancock IChief Principal Planner ICity Development I Oxford City Council ISt. Aldates Chambers I109 - 113 St. Aldates I Oxford IOX1 1DS.
Email: mhancock@oxford.gov.
ukITel: 01865 252153 - please keep any communications civil and polite, v important

c) find out which of the individuals and parties up for re-election next time around voted in favour of this development, and hold them accountable the next time they seek your vote

d) insist to your local political representative, or to the council that they make very great efforts to retro-fit some kind of view moderation, whether that is planting trees or whatever

The University and Council have colluded
in a very unsatisfactory process that has done terrible damage to a part of Oxford that is absolutely cherished.

Oxford has a long and proud tradition of successful protest, please don't accept this, do what you can and spread the word
An important leader, about a truly disgraceful development and planning process. Concerned Oxford residents a) can sign a petition complaining about this development http://www.thepetiti onsite.com/850/008/8 30/port-meadow-oxfor d-damaged-views/ b) write, email or call to give your views a key person in the development and seemingly non-transparent planning approval process to express concern - Murray Hancock IChief Principal Planner ICity Development I Oxford City Council ISt. Aldates Chambers I109 - 113 St. Aldates I Oxford IOX1 1DS. Email: mhancock@oxford.gov. ukITel: 01865 252153 - please keep any communications civil and polite, v important c) find out which of the individuals and parties up for re-election next time around voted in favour of this development, and hold them accountable the next time they seek your vote d) insist to your local political representative, or to the council that they make very great efforts to retro-fit some kind of view moderation, whether that is planting trees or whatever The University and Council have colluded in a very unsatisfactory process that has done terrible damage to a part of Oxford that is absolutely cherished. Oxford has a long and proud tradition of successful protest, please don't accept this, do what you can and spread the word Toby Porter
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