Port Meadow saga continues

first_imgFollowing months of campaigning, Oxford City Council has resolved to negotiate with the University regarding the Castle Mill developments near Port Meadow. Despite previously giving the scheme planning permission, councillors have allegedly admitted that they do not like the appearance of the building. Demonstrators from the Campaign to Protect Port Meadow from Oxford University (CPPMOU) have protested for months about the newly built flats, especially designed for University graduate accommodation. It is claimed that the building, particularly the top two storeys, has a ‘damaging’ impact on views of Port Meadows, and has angered many local residents and students. This recent development follows an online petition, which has over 2,200 signatures, and a letter calling on Prince Charles to raise concerns during his visit last week.Demonstrators are said to be pleased, and see this as a positive first step. Toby Porter, on behalf of the CPPMOU, said, “We welcome news that City Planners and the University have met, following Thursday’s instruction by Councillors to begin negotiations to ‘ameliorate the size and impact of the development’ on Roger Dudman Way. We feel that the reason these negotiations are now taking place is because of the huge public protest at the development.” He added, “I am not surprised by the decision. While the University is right to say that their planning permission is legal, it is in our eyes not legitimate – had the University’s planning consultant produced drawings showing the impact on the Meadow seen today, and their public been properly consulted, we do not believe planning permission would have been granted. One request we have made is that, before any final decision is reached, the community and campaign representatives will see precise computer-generated images of how proposed changes affect the view from Port Meadow.”However, the proposed changes could potentially cost up to £1million, and it is as yet unclear who would be responsible for this bill. While both the University and the Council declined to comment on the matter, CPPMOU has stated, “An important factor is that since early September, when the scale of the building was revealed, there have been significant protests, including voices from senior figures within the University. Had they listened, this would have cost a fraction of the current estimate to put right. This sums up what we see as the University’s culpability – we don’t think anyone anticipated the impact the buildings would have on Port Meadow.”A University spokesperson said, “We welcome the planning report’s finding that the University acted properly when securing planning permission for the Castle Mill student accommodation development. We are always happy to meet with planning officers and to hear what they have to say. A meeting on Friday was the first of what will probably be several conversations.”A spokesman for Oxford City Council said, “Our Head of City Development, Michael Crofton Briggs, has met the Director of Estates from Oxford University and started a constructive dialogue about the size and impact of the building following the West Area Planning Committee.“Local and city wide groups were notified of the planning application and site notices were put up. However, it seems that a lot of people did not realise just how close to Port Meadow the development site was.“A report fully explaining the process was discussed at the West Area Planning Committee.”last_img read more