Inspector criticises student home plans

thisisoxfordshire: Michael Crofton-Briggs Michael Crofton-Briggs

A PLANNING inspector has delivered a major blow to city council plans to control the spread of shared and student housing in Oxford.

Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University have both bitterly opposed “a housing tax” introduced by the council, to make them contribute to social housing as the price of being allowed to build new student accommodation.

The council policy adds significantly to the cost of student homes, with a “social housing charge” of £140 per square metre, plus a five per cent administration charge.

But now planning inspector Shelagh Bussey has expressed concerns, warning the council that she found the policy “ineffective” and “unsound”.

In her note to the inquiry, she was equally critical of the policy to control the spread and locations of houses of multi-occupation (HMOs).

The city council will today be given an opportunity to change her mind when the issue goes before an inquiry into the city’s sites and housing plans and policies at the Town Hall.

But the inspector issued the statement after hearing evidence about the city’s affordable homes policies last week.

Lawyers acting for university colleges had warned that the “housing” tax was legally flawed and would deter development of purpose-built student homes.

The council claimed that the charge was necessary to deter developers from building student accommodation instead of family homes. But the inspector said in her statement: “I consider that the policy is ineffective and therefore unsound because its implementation strategy is not robust.

“It has not been demonstrated how the required contribution to affordable housing would in all cases be clearly related to the development proposed, especially in respect of sites specifically allocated in the plan for student accommodation.”

Turning to the council’s policy of only allowing homes to be turned into multi-occupied houses in stretches of streets where the number of HMOs do not exceed 20 per cent, the inspector said: “Insufficient evidence has been presented to indicate that the policy is likely to have the intended positive outcome.”

Her statement was published on the city council’s website on Monday. But the council’s head of city development, Michael Crofton-Briggs, remained confident the inspector’s concerns would be answered today.

He said: “The council has been requested to carry out further work. She has put these points to us and we shall respond to them. We will be seeking to persuade the inspector that these policies are sound.”

The two-week inquiry will end tomorrow.

FAILURE OF POLICY

TEMPLE Cowley Pools’ allocation for housing development represents a “failure” of Oxford City Council’s planning policy.


That’s what a hearing into the city council’s plans to earmark more than 60 sites across Oxford for development heard yesterday.


As part of the sites and housing plan, the pools are set aside for residential development and they will be replaced by a new £9.2m facility in Blackbird Leys.


But some people have objected to the plans to close Temple Cowley Pools.
At the hearing, Judith Chipchase, of Oxfordshire
Green Party, told the planning inspector the pools should not have been earmarked for development.


She said: “This proposal is a failure of planning policy because the community has opposed it.


“They were very concerned because this is a community facility and they will not have one in the area [if it is developed].”


Mark Jaggard, of Oxford City Council, said: “Temple Cowley Pools is not fit for purpose.

Oxford is very lucky in having a lot of swimming pool provision.”
Sport England did not object to the proposal because the pools would be replaced with a facility in Blackbird Leys.

Comments (20)

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10:13am Thu 20 Sep 12

bart-on simpson says...

£140 per square metre + 5% admin charge. Nice tax. Better than the £3 a day tax to park at Thornhill.

By the way, Judith Chipchase ran for our local council, came last, and now represents the local community. Democracy.
£140 per square metre + 5% admin charge. Nice tax. Better than the £3 a day tax to park at Thornhill. By the way, Judith Chipchase ran for our local council, came last, and now represents the local community. Democracy. bart-on simpson

10:38am Thu 20 Sep 12

EMBOX1 says...

Its absurd. The Universities are dictating local policy, and ruining the lives of people born and bred in Oxford.

As for democracy....pah. Hasn't existed for a long time in the UK. Two-and-a-half parties who always win doesn't equal democracy. Might as well not vote at all.
Its absurd. The Universities are dictating local policy, and ruining the lives of people born and bred in Oxford. As for democracy....pah. Hasn't existed for a long time in the UK. Two-and-a-half parties who always win doesn't equal democracy. Might as well not vote at all. EMBOX1

1:41pm Thu 20 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

If the community truly did oppose the closure of the truly dreadful TCP, they wouldn't have voted for the incumbant political party.

Ousting Labour from Oxford was a fundamental component of the SaveTCP campaign and was an outright failure. The first attempt at blocking it in the courts was also failure, as was Parish Green status for a small corner of BBL park.

By the time the second court case comes round in December, it will be around 6-7 years since members of the SaveTCP group succesfully campaigned to prevent a mid-life refurbishment of TCP and at least 6 months beyond the expected life-expiry of the pool.

I'd hope the council have the sense to close and drain the pools by mid November.
If the community truly did oppose the closure of the truly dreadful TCP, they wouldn't have voted for the incumbant political party. Ousting Labour from Oxford was a fundamental component of the SaveTCP campaign and was an outright failure. The first attempt at blocking it in the courts was also failure, as was Parish Green status for a small corner of BBL park. By the time the second court case comes round in December, it will be around 6-7 years since members of the SaveTCP group succesfully campaigned to prevent a mid-life refurbishment of TCP and at least 6 months beyond the expected life-expiry of the pool. I'd hope the council have the sense to close and drain the pools by mid November. Andrew:Oxford

1:42pm Thu 20 Sep 12

PopGoesTheWeazel says...

Oxford City Council seems to be acting as though it was Westminster Parliament. I cannot see anywhere an Act of Parliament which says they can unilaterally levy charges like they are doing.
Oxford City Council seems to be acting as though it was Westminster Parliament. I cannot see anywhere an Act of Parliament which says they can unilaterally levy charges like they are doing. PopGoesTheWeazel

1:59pm Thu 20 Sep 12

jamiek says...

How come this council are allowed to blackmail universaties and local builders into giving them money just to give them permission to build much needed accomadation!!!!!!!!
!!!!!! At least Dick Turpan wore a mask!!!
How come this council are allowed to blackmail universaties and local builders into giving them money just to give them permission to build much needed accomadation!!!!!!!! !!!!!! At least Dick Turpan wore a mask!!! jamiek

3:08pm Thu 20 Sep 12

Christine Hovis says...

I went to the City of Oxford Swimming Club Championships at the weekend. It is immediately clear that the pool has to be replaced.

The place is beyond its use by date.
I went to the City of Oxford Swimming Club Championships at the weekend. It is immediately clear that the pool has to be replaced. The place is beyond its use by date. Christine Hovis

4:03pm Thu 20 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

Tha'ts odd. Six comments have disappeared.
Tha'ts odd. Six comments have disappeared. Andrew:Oxford

4:04pm Thu 20 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

And they are back again...
And they are back again... Andrew:Oxford

4:38pm Thu 20 Sep 12

bart-on simpson says...

MCB's photo is so 1991
MCB's photo is so 1991 bart-on simpson

6:44pm Thu 20 Sep 12

Myron Blatz says...

What needs closing down and replacing is Labour-led City Council - it has cost council tax payers hundeds of thousands in lost Court cases and legal fees. as for Temple Cowley pool, the place has become useless at least in part due to decades of poor maintaining - but has a much more central location for the people of Oxford than does Blackbird Leys. So why wasn't the same investment put into the Temple Cowley site? Answer = political, to pump yet more resources and attention into one of Labour's largest council estates and vote catchment areas, where the Party's MP also resides.
What needs closing down and replacing is Labour-led City Council - it has cost council tax payers hundeds of thousands in lost Court cases and legal fees. as for Temple Cowley pool, the place has become useless at least in part due to decades of poor maintaining - but has a much more central location for the people of Oxford than does Blackbird Leys. So why wasn't the same investment put into the Temple Cowley site? Answer = political, to pump yet more resources and attention into one of Labour's largest council estates and vote catchment areas, where the Party's MP also resides. Myron Blatz

8:22pm Thu 20 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

Myron Blatz wrote:
What needs closing down and replacing is Labour-led City Council - it has cost council tax payers hundeds of thousands in lost Court cases and legal fees. as for Temple Cowley pool, the place has become useless at least in part due to decades of poor maintaining - but has a much more central location for the people of Oxford than does Blackbird Leys. So why wasn't the same investment put into the Temple Cowley site? Answer = political, to pump yet more resources and attention into one of Labour's largest council estates and vote catchment areas, where the Party's MP also resides.
Don't forget, members of the SaveTCP group actively campaigned to prevent a comprehensive refurbishment of Temple Cowley Pools.

The full story was published in the Oxford Mail in May 2006.
[quote][p][bold]Myron Blatz[/bold] wrote: What needs closing down and replacing is Labour-led City Council - it has cost council tax payers hundeds of thousands in lost Court cases and legal fees. as for Temple Cowley pool, the place has become useless at least in part due to decades of poor maintaining - but has a much more central location for the people of Oxford than does Blackbird Leys. So why wasn't the same investment put into the Temple Cowley site? Answer = political, to pump yet more resources and attention into one of Labour's largest council estates and vote catchment areas, where the Party's MP also resides.[/p][/quote]Don't forget, members of the SaveTCP group actively campaigned to prevent a comprehensive refurbishment of Temple Cowley Pools. The full story was published in the Oxford Mail in May 2006. Andrew:Oxford

9:24pm Thu 20 Sep 12

ger elttil OX2 0EJ says...

I don't know what they really want, but their tactics have been more Stop The Leys pool, rather than save Temple cowley. And as we all know if all those people that signed the petition spent a few quid a week there, then it would be a massive money spinner for the council and would remain. Maybe it would be interesting to invest in a pint and listen in at The Exeter on sunday night.
I don't know what they really want, but their tactics have been more Stop The Leys pool, rather than save Temple cowley. And as we all know if all those people that signed the petition spent a few quid a week there, then it would be a massive money spinner for the council and would remain. Maybe it would be interesting to invest in a pint and listen in at The Exeter on sunday night. ger elttil OX2 0EJ

1:33am Fri 21 Sep 12

Myron Blatz says...

Agree with you, Andrew. Upon reflection, probably the main reason City Council wanted to re-site this part of Oxford's Pool to Blackbird Leys was 'logistical' - it knew it wouldn't be able to build much-needed homes on the Blackbird Leys 'Park' site, but was confident it could push-through planning permission for a new Pool complex at Blackbird Leys, despite the fact Blackbird Leys already has a Pool, and that it knew there would be opposition to closure of Temple Cowley. City Council's decision was about asset management and how it could get new flats and houses built, whilst also providing a replacement public swimming pool amenity within the general locality.Personally, I still think it a great, great pity a new pool complex could not have been built on the Temple Cowley site, but on reflection, maybe it is sometimes better to reach a compromise and get both new housing and a new pool. Had the pro-TCP 'Flat Earth Society' lobby realised this, it wouldn't have ended up costing the City Council (and therefore council tax payers of Oxford) hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees, delays and associated expenses - and by now, people wanting to use the new swimming pool at Blackbird Leys would have been able to stay fit and healthy (even if it meant having to travel further by bicycle, car or bus) and those needing homes would already be living in new flats and houses at Temple Cowley - though City Council and the property developers don't yet seem to have started building on the former Cowley Community Centre site, demolished several years ago to provide "urgently needed" flats and houses in East Oxford.
Agree with you, Andrew. Upon reflection, probably the main reason City Council wanted to re-site this part of Oxford's Pool to Blackbird Leys was 'logistical' - it knew it wouldn't be able to build much-needed homes on the Blackbird Leys 'Park' site, but was confident it could push-through planning permission for a new Pool complex at Blackbird Leys, despite the fact Blackbird Leys already has a Pool, and that it knew there would be opposition to closure of Temple Cowley. City Council's decision was about asset management and how it could get new flats and houses built, whilst also providing a replacement public swimming pool amenity within the general locality.Personally, I still think it a great, great pity a new pool complex could not have been built on the Temple Cowley site, but on reflection, maybe it is sometimes better to reach a compromise and get both new housing and a new pool. Had the pro-TCP 'Flat Earth Society' lobby realised this, it wouldn't have ended up costing the City Council (and therefore council tax payers of Oxford) hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees, delays and associated expenses - and by now, people wanting to use the new swimming pool at Blackbird Leys would have been able to stay fit and healthy (even if it meant having to travel further by bicycle, car or bus) and those needing homes would already be living in new flats and houses at Temple Cowley - though City Council and the property developers don't yet seem to have started building on the former Cowley Community Centre site, demolished several years ago to provide "urgently needed" flats and houses in East Oxford. Myron Blatz

7:15am Fri 21 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

At least, with the closure of the community centre, the council subsidy of alcohol was stopped.

I'm not convinced that residential accommodation is best suited for that site, a redevelopment of it, the corner buildings and Cowley Centre with a move of County hall to Cowley would probably be better.

On the current County Hall site, why not build new student halls?
At least, with the closure of the community centre, the council subsidy of alcohol was stopped. I'm not convinced that residential accommodation is best suited for that site, a redevelopment of it, the corner buildings and Cowley Centre with a move of County hall to Cowley would probably be better. On the current County Hall site, why not build new student halls? Andrew:Oxford

1:42pm Sun 23 Sep 12

SaveTCP says...

Get the real story here: http://bit.ly/SdT9eP
Get the real story here: http://bit.ly/SdT9eP SaveTCP

5:17pm Wed 26 Sep 12

ger elttil OX2 0EJ says...

SaveTCP wrote:
Get the real story here: http://bit.ly/SdT9eP
I would do but it seems that you delete any posts on your site that do not concur with your "version"
[quote][p][bold]SaveTCP[/bold] wrote: Get the real story here: http://bit.ly/SdT9eP[/p][/quote]I would do but it seems that you delete any posts on your site that do not concur with your "version" ger elttil OX2 0EJ

4:03am Fri 28 Sep 12

Yoosef says...

I am a regular user and member of TCP & Gym. This is the only centre within 15 miles radius of Oxford which has all the main facilities of Swimming Pool, Diving Pool, Gym, Aerobics, Sauna and Steam Room under one roof.

Almost all the disrepairs of TCP are super-structural and superficial and mainly result from several years of neglect and lack of proper service and maintenance.

The existing BBL Gym does not even have a Steam Room or any windows! It is dark dim and gloomy and underused. The few times I have used it I couldn't wait to finish and leave.

Spending £13M of taxpayers money to build a new pool next to this red herring looser of a Gym is a most foolish idea I have ever heard. It will result in under-use (except by 2-3 nights a week by the likes of Swimming Club) hence further waste of tax payers' money.
I am a regular user and member of TCP & Gym. This is the only centre within 15 miles radius of Oxford which has all the main facilities of Swimming Pool, Diving Pool, Gym, Aerobics, Sauna and Steam Room under one roof. Almost all the disrepairs of TCP are super-structural and superficial and mainly result from several years of neglect and lack of proper service and maintenance. The existing BBL Gym does not even have a Steam Room or any windows! It is dark dim and gloomy and underused. The few times I have used it I couldn't wait to finish and leave. Spending £13M of taxpayers money to build a new pool next to this red herring looser of a Gym is a most foolish idea I have ever heard. It will result in under-use (except by 2-3 nights a week by the likes of Swimming Club) hence further waste of tax payers' money. Yoosef

5:42pm Fri 28 Sep 12

gavin2012 says...

The Council have been letting TCP & Gym run down. Some hope this may justify its closure. Even some basic standard maintenance and repairs have been refused.

An example is their year long refusal to repair the Gym AC Coil which only costs a few hundred pounds. Instead for several months the Council and Fusion have put dirty heavy duty fans on the Gym floor recycling dusty, sweaty and dirty Gym air back into the lungs of the users while they work out.

In this way the Council have also failed in their obligation to the tax paying local community members who have been short changed by not getting the standard healthy services that all other centres provide.

Also in this way the local community have felt they are being pressured to give up their TCP Gym and travel further and use the dim and dull BBL Gym which does not even have any windows or a Steam Room. It was designed more like a converted warehouse or garage rather than a Gym.
The Council have been letting TCP & Gym run down. Some hope this may justify its closure. Even some basic standard maintenance and repairs have been refused. An example is their year long refusal to repair the Gym AC Coil which only costs a few hundred pounds. Instead for several months the Council and Fusion have put dirty heavy duty fans on the Gym floor recycling dusty, sweaty and dirty Gym air back into the lungs of the users while they work out. In this way the Council have also failed in their obligation to the tax paying local community members who have been short changed by not getting the standard healthy services that all other centres provide. Also in this way the local community have felt they are being pressured to give up their TCP Gym and travel further and use the dim and dull BBL Gym which does not even have any windows or a Steam Room. It was designed more like a converted warehouse or garage rather than a Gym. gavin2012

10:51pm Fri 28 Sep 12

gavin2012 says...

For the second week running the showers at TCP were cold. Shame on Oxford City Council and Fusion Lifestyle for shortchanging the taxpaying public.
For the second week running the showers at TCP were cold. Shame on Oxford City Council and Fusion Lifestyle for shortchanging the taxpaying public. gavin2012

10:29pm Fri 12 Oct 12

AmandaJP says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
If the community truly did oppose the closure of the truly dreadful TCP, they wouldn't have voted for the incumbant political party. Ousting Labour from Oxford was a fundamental component of the SaveTCP campaign and was an outright failure. The first attempt at blocking it in the courts was also failure, as was Parish Green status for a small corner of BBL park. By the time the second court case comes round in December, it will be around 6-7 years since members of the SaveTCP group succesfully campaigned to prevent a mid-life refurbishment of TCP and at least 6 months beyond the expected life-expiry of the pool. I'd hope the council have the sense to close and drain the pools by mid November.
Seriously Andrew, which councillor are you? - strangely nobody voted Labour in, in relation to Temple Cowley or even Temple Cowley alone???; they voted in the hope that the party would work democratically for the greater good! The blocking has only be a failure since Labour have a majority and are evidently unclear what true democracy means and because quite frankly they are bullies....have you actually seen (and understood) all the quotes and figures. I can assure you Labour have not been entirely transparent in this diagreement. They are just doing what they want to do, regardless of what their constituents want.....
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: If the community truly did oppose the closure of the truly dreadful TCP, they wouldn't have voted for the incumbant political party. Ousting Labour from Oxford was a fundamental component of the SaveTCP campaign and was an outright failure. The first attempt at blocking it in the courts was also failure, as was Parish Green status for a small corner of BBL park. By the time the second court case comes round in December, it will be around 6-7 years since members of the SaveTCP group succesfully campaigned to prevent a mid-life refurbishment of TCP and at least 6 months beyond the expected life-expiry of the pool. I'd hope the council have the sense to close and drain the pools by mid November.[/p][/quote]Seriously Andrew, which councillor are you? - strangely nobody voted Labour in, in relation to Temple Cowley or even Temple Cowley alone???; they voted in the hope that the party would work democratically for the greater good! The blocking has only be a failure since Labour have a majority and are evidently unclear what true democracy means and because quite frankly they are bullies....have you actually seen (and understood) all the quotes and figures. I can assure you Labour have not been entirely transparent in this diagreement. They are just doing what they want to do, regardless of what their constituents want..... AmandaJP

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