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Grand design for uni library hits major funding problem
Buy this photo » The site of the planned Radcliffe Observatory Quarter humanities library
WORK to build a £40m library and complete the £200m development of Oxford University’s Radcliffe Observatory Quarter is still on hold, a year after plans first stalled.
Last May the university revealed it had been unable to secure funding for the humanities library which was to become the centrepiece for the site between Woodstock Road and Walton Street.
At the time a spokesman said it still intended to build some sort of facility on the site but it wasn’t clear when that would happen.
The spokesman added: “It’s no secret that this is a challenging time for arts funding and the building still requires funding before it can happen.”
Last night the university confirmed it still had not got the money to complete the building and was in discussions over what to do with the site.
Paul Hornby, a member of the Jericho Community Association, has said the site should be handed back to the public while building work is on hold.
He said: “If the library is not going to be built for a while we would like the site to be used for public purposes.”
Oxford University confirmed it was still facing funding issues but would not comment further on the details.
Spokesman Matt Pickles: said: “The Radcliffe Humanities building was a crucial first step in developing the Humanities presence on the site.
“The Humanities Division and the Bodleian Libraries are currently opening up a wide- ranging debate about how best to realise the original vision for the site.”
Earlier this month, the university’s Mathematical Institute opened and work is now under way on the Blavatnik School of Government on a site next to Freud’s in Walton Street.
The library is the last remaining building to be completed as part of the £200m development, but the area is boarded up.
Mr Pickles declined to comment on whether it was a question of months or years until the university would be able to start work. He added that he would not be able to comment further until discussions had been concluded.
Mr Hornby said the area could be put to good use while the university was deciding what to do.
He said: “You could have a meadow there if you put down a thin layer of soil and then seeded it, on the understanding it would always be built on eventually.”
1770 – The Radcliffe Infirmary opens
2003 – The site is sold to Oxford University by the NHS
2004 – Oxford University begins drawing up its masterplan for the site
2007 – The Radcliffe Infirmary closes with services moved to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington
2008 – Demolition of the hospital begins
2010 – Oxford City Council gives the development planning permission
2012 – The refurbished Radcliffe Infirmary building is reopened as a humanities centre
2013 – The Blavatnik School of Government is given planning permission and work starts, while the Mathematical Institute is opened
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