ALMOST 300 Merton College students could be housed in a new development if plans are approved.

The proposed building, off Manor Place, backing onto the River Cherwell, will have four storeys, dropping to three in sensitive areas of the site, and will accommodate 294 students.

Project developer McLaren Property is inviting residents living within half a mile of the site to attend two consultation events next week.

The developer is hoping to submit a joint planning application with the college to Oxford City Council in March.

Stuart Black of McLaren Property said: “This plan reflects the requirements of Oxford’s planning policy and helps to meet the growing local need for new student accommodation in the city. The site has been earmarked for new student accommodation, but it is important for us to meet local need while respecting the heritage of the local area and the comfort of neighbouring residents.

“We would therefore encourage as many local people as possible to come along to our consultation events, visit our website and get involved.”

Holywell ward city councillor Mark Mills cautiously welcomed the plans.

He said: “In general, developments that increase the supply of student accommodation are to be welcomed because they divert students from the private residential market, freeing up more space within it for non- students. However, this is a sensitive area in conservation terms and we need to consider the impact on the existing residents.


Mark Mills

“We will look carefully at the details of the plans when they are eventually submitted.”

McLaren and Merton had mounted a legal challenge against the city council’s Sites and Housing Plan but withdrew it last month.

The challenge related to a previous proposal for self-contained student studio flats but planning policy restrictions on minimum space would have made the scheme commercially unviable, the developer said.

Christian Ruckteschler, president of the college’s Junior Common Room, said details were still vague.

He said: “With the scarce details currently available I don’t think I can give a comment on this.

“But, generally, increasing the amount of student accommodation available is always a good idea in a town such as Oxford where housing prices are incredibly high.”

  • Consultation events take place next Thursday at 6pm and on Saturday, January 25, at 10am, at the TS Eliot Theatre, Merton College.