AN OXFORD college will be able to improve its ‘inadequate facilities’ in a multi-million pound renovation, despite the Bodleian Library’s opposition.

Trinity College has been given permission to undertake new building on its Broad Street site for the first time in half a century.

But the Bodleian Library’s librarian, Richard Ovenden, said the impact to light in its Weston Library reading room meant the overhaul will be ‘too big, in the wrong location and inappropriate’.

Dame Hilary Boulding, Trinity College’s president, said the extension had been proposed since 2008 and would deliver benefits for its academic community and Oxfordshire more widely. It is the feeder college for outreach activities for Oxfordshire schoolchildren.

She said ‘extensive pre-application consultation’ had taken place over the last decade and had been a ‘meticulous process which involved many stakeholders’.

The extension will see five purpose-built teaching rooms, a lecture theatre, an additional library and 46 accessible student study bedrooms.

Dame Hilary added: “This is a heavily constrained site. We’ve taken time to understand these constraints and to explore and model opinions and have worked collaboratively with council officers and many interest groups.”

She added the result was a project of ‘exceptionally high quality which will deliver substantial public benefit’.

But in a submission to the city council’s West Area planning committee, Mr Ovenden said the Weston Library’s reading rooms will be adversely affected – but he was broadly supportive of the college’s desire to expand.

The ‘magnificent’ reading rooms were designed by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in the 1930s at Oxford University’s request to ‘take advantage of the quieter setting and better light’, he said.

He said: “The proposed development would be just 35 feet away from this reading room and would be as high as the north range of the Weston Library and run almost the full extent of the reading room’s length.

“The view, so cohesive to quiet study, would be completely lost, blocked by student accommodation that is, in our view, too big and too close.

“The reduction in light and the increase in noise would cause harm to one of the world’s great research spaces.”

Mr Ovenden said he felt there had not been any ‘proper consideration’ between the ‘private interests of the college and the public benefits of the Weston Library’.

But Dame Hilary said the college had ‘paused’ for five months earlier this year to review any impact on the library. Historic England decided any potential impact on it would be modest.

The college has 450 students and 120 staff – but two floors of its current library and most of its communal spaces are inaccessible by wheelchair.

Currently just 17 of its 150 graduate students can be housed on the Trinity College site.

Dame Hilary said the college wants to offer rooms within the college to all its 50 first-year graduate students to ‘foster a graduate academic community’.

That would also alleviate problems in the private rental market in Oxford, she said.

The West Area committee unanimously backed the application at a meeting on Tuesday.

In June, an Oxford college opposed another’s application to build a 21.8m metre tower.

New College was given permission for its new Warham House tower along with other buildings in Savile Road but nearby Mansfield College was opposed.

Its principal, Baroness Helena Kennedy, said the new development would overlook her college.

She said at the time: “Not all colleges are equal and this is a case of the big guy [New College] and the little guy [Mansfield College].

“New College is seeking to get its way in this matter without considering its impact on a smaller, poorer neighbour.”