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Builders lose appeal on East Oxford bookbinders plan
Buy this photo » The Old Bookbinders in Green Street Picture: Jon Lewis
A DEVELOPER has lost its bid to flatten an 1834 East Oxford bookbinders.
Cantay Investments Ltd appealed after Oxford City Council threw out the plan for the empty building in residential Green Street.
It wanted to build a pair of four bedroom semi-detached houses at the front and a two-bedroom house at the rear, retaining one workshop.
It would provide much-needed homes and improve the site’s appearance, the application said.
But the council decision was this month upheld by the independent Planning Inspectorate over design and highway safety issues.
The building – which is not listed – stood empty for years before being given a send-off in March 2011 with a host of pop-up arts events for live music, food and dance.
These included shows by The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm band and The Long Insiders.
East Oxford city councillor Elise Benjamin said: “It is brilliant. We have fought for a long time to ensure we get the right development on that site.
“It is a very narrow street. This development would be imposing and out of keeping.”
Event company manager Ian Nolan, who organised the farewell shows, said: “There is an integral need to develop East Oxford and Cowley Road to have employment for local craftsmen.
“It is essential there are spaces which are affordable.”
But the council did not oppose the plan over the loss of employment because – unlike a refused 2011 scheme for just housing – it kept the rear workshop.
However, the front homes would “fail to create an appropriate visual appearance” with the street and the two spaces would add to demand in Green Street, it said.
The homes would suffer from “inadequate” sunlight, it added.
But the inspectorate did not back this, saying they would get more light than other Green Street homes. And it did not side with parking concerns, saying residents could be excluded from a permit-scheme for street parking.
It raised new concerns that pedestrians could be at risk when occupants reverse from planned spaces.
It threw out the plan because of “the significant harm” the design would have on the area.
One resident opposed the plan.
But planning consultant JPPC, for Cantay, said the buildings would “improve the appearance of the site” and help meet demand for housing.
Neither were available for comment.
JPPC told the inspectorate: “The council has not taken a positive approach or been proactive in finding solutions to secure and appropriate redevelopment of the site.”
Writer Hilary Cave, 42, who lives opposite said: “I am delighted.
“It is in keeping with the character of the street as a Victorian building.
“I would like to see it renovated and used for housing or some sort of public space.
“I want to keep these old buildings in Oxford because, one by one, they are disappearing.”