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College launches objection over redevelopment plans
THE redevelopment of an historic building in Jericho has won the support of Oxford’s planning officials, to the dismay of another university college.
Exeter College bought the Walton Street site for £7m in 2010, following Ruskin College’s relocation to Ruskin Hall in Old Headington.
The Oxford University college is proposing to demolish all the buildings apart from the 1913 facade and build 90 student rooms, teaching and lecture space and a cafe.
The scheme has already met with opposition not only from heritage groups, but also from neighbouring Worcester College.
Despite this, Oxford City Council’s planning officers have recommended that the west area planning committee gives the go-ahead to the scheme. In a report to the committee, planning officer Angela Fettiplace said: “There is a public benefit to be derived by the provision of purpose-built student housing in the city.
“Taking into account these matters and weighed against the impact of the proposals, it is considered that the proposal forms an acceptable visual relationship with the existing building and the surrounding development.”
A total of 32 letters of objection have also been received from people connected to that college, as well as 31 from local residents.
Philip Grover, an agent writing on behalf of Worcester, said: “Worcester College very much regrets that it has proved necessary to lodge a formal objection to this planning application since it is supportive of the re-use of the former Ruskin College site for academic purposes.
“Worcester College is extremely disappointed with the proposed development, which is considers to be un-neighbourly, insensitive and inappropriate for such a sensitive historic location.”
Exeter officials say they are working with award-winning architect Alison Brooks to develop “a forward-thinking architectural response that reinterprets traditional cloistered learning”.
As part of the proposals for the building, the stairs leading in will be removed and a so-called Parisian-style roof created out of stainless steel. The shape of the building will create two new quadrangles.
Exeter has said it will maintain some of the building’s links to the past, including the carved plaque over the main entrance which reads “Ruskin College” and the memorial inscriptions below the windows on Walton Street.
It will also restore and clean all facades of the building, and the pavement in front of the college will be widened.
Ruskin College’s roots lie in the British trade union and Labour movement. It was founded in 1899 to provide educational opportunities for people who were denied access to university.
Notable alumni include former Labour deputy prime minister John Prescott and Labour MP Dennis Skinner.