University postpones its sale of education centre

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

A MAJOR development in Summertown might not happen for up to five years.

Oxford University has said it will not be selling off its facilities at Ewert House – identified for a “retail-led development by Oxford City Council – in Summertown for at least three years.

Martin Roberts, chairman of Summertown and St Margaret’s neighbourhood forum, said he was disappointed to hear the development might be pushed back.

He said: “I am not surprised though. The question we will be thinking about and asking Oxford City Council’s planners is whether they can do a plan for the area as two phases.

“It is such a significant space and it would be a pity to delay it while waiting for the university to leave its part of the site.”

As well as the retail side of any development, Ewert House and the Diamond Place car park could also be used for homes and student housing.

The council says “sufficient” car parking space should be kept at the four-acre site.

The council held public consultations last year and is currently drawing up its plans for how the site can be developed.

City council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “We are preparing supplementary planning guidance for the whole site which will seek to establish the framework or outline of the development of the site.

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“We cannot confirm exactly how the site will be developed or in what timescale at the moment.”

This planning guidance is expected to be complete in the spring and will set out what the site can be used for and where the buildings can go.

Ewert House, which along with its car park takes up a large proportion of the site, is currently used by the university’s Department for Continuing Education for weekly classes and for exams.

University spokesman Matt Pickles said: “It is likely that the university will continue to utilise Ewert House for the next three to five years and certainly until we have replaced the existing facilities, particularly the exam hall.”

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