St Clement's student flats finally get the green light

thisisoxfordshire: Police stand guard inside Oxford Town Hall after a gun threat was received by the city council earlier this month. Picture: OX54675 Antony Moore Buy this photo Police stand guard inside Oxford Town Hall after a gun threat was received by the city council earlier this month. Picture: OX54675 Antony Moore

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build student housing above St Clement’s car park have won approval after a planning process spanning years.

Developers Watkin Jones changed its plans for a four-block 140-room student housing development to include a “phased approach” to building work, so the car park would stay open during the project. Some free parking would also be provided during construction.

The latest attempt to get the application past the council’s planning review committee finally succeeded at Oxford Town Hall last night.

The meeting, attended by around 20 people, remained calm despite the added tension of a police presence after a gun threat was received by the city council in connection with the application earlier this month.

After a 90-minute hearing, the proposed plans were accepted by seven votes to two following a half-hour debate by councillors. Only Lib Dem councillor Jean Fooks and Green Dick Wolff voted against.

Mrs Fooks said: “A reduction of 115 spaces to 80 is one I would consider to be significant, and there isn’t enough cycle parking. For those reasons, I cannot support this.”

But Labour councillor and board member John Tanner, who was a substitute at the meeting for usual committee member Laurence Baxter, said members had to think about what the development would be like.

He said: “I think, if this is successful and full of students from either of the two universities or another similar establishment, it will be a great asset to this city.”

After the decision, campaigners against the application expressed their bitter disappointment.

Business owner Clinton Pugh said the council was thinking too much about its own financial benefit, as it stands to gain £5m when it sells the land, and not about the effect the development will have on the area.

He told the Oxford Mail: “I’m obviously very disappointed. I don’t think it’s the best outcome for St Clement’s.

“I think the more senior members of the council were thinking about how much it helps with their budget, not the reality of the effect it will have.”

And 88-year-old Anchor Court resident Leatrice Beeson said: “When my relatives come to see me, they won’t have anywhere to park. I’m very disappointed.”

Watkin Jones spokesman Paul Gillespie said he was pleased with the outcome. He said: “I think we’re relieved and grateful for the opportunity to show we can do what we said we were going to do, and we will do everything we can to make it as comfortable for the traders as possible.”

Over the years, various different planning bids for the site met with strong opposition in the St Clement’s area, predominantly from traders, who said the loss of the car park would harm their business.

Members of the city’s Green Party also opposed the plans after a viability assessment carried out on their behalf revealed businesses in St Clement’s could lose £2m if the car park was closed for 14 months.

The development now has permission to go ahead. In its most recent submissions, Watkin Jones details a three-phase approach, with a minimum of 25 spaces still available throughout the development.

No date has been set for work to start or for it to be completed.

TIMELINE

  • May 2009: Plans for 120 student rooms on stilts above the car park and to reduce the number of spaces from 100 to 76 are approved and the Watkins Jones Group is granted a 150-year lease of the site.
  • March 2011: Revised plans, which save nine extra spaces, are submitted to Oxford City Council.
  • July 2011: A decision on the plans is deferred by the council’s planning committee to allow more time for consultation with the public.
  • September 2011: Plans for 141 student bedrooms in three blocks above the car park are thrown out by committee five votes to four on the grounds the proposals weren’t right for the site.
  • May 2012: A new application for permission for 140 rooms, 80 car parking spaces and public conveniences is submitted.
  • August 14: Plans for a temporary car park off Marston Road while the work is carried out are approved.
  • August 15: Planning bid is thrown out by the west area planning committee.
  • September 11: Gun threat is received by reception staff at the town hall.
  • September 24: The Oxford Mail reports on the compromise offer for phased and free car parking from the developer .
     

Comments (9)

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9:48am Sat 29 Sep 12

Cathena says...

No one to call it in again? Mustn't break the chain - it would be bad luck!
No one to call it in again? Mustn't break the chain - it would be bad luck! Cathena
  • Score: 0

11:08am Sat 29 Sep 12

Geoff Roberts says...

Desperate times. Finally our Labour council get to sell off more of our land. Land which is in the hands of the council who are supposed to look after our communities first. Instead they are literally selling off our communities. That is what this is, public property placed into the hands of private, it is privatisation. Labour are privatising our communities because we are desperate for money due to them being rubbish with our money. Yet we still vote them in.

As much as I feel education is important, we are increasingly allowing powerful, rich organisations which are becoming increasingly elite, to buy everything for their own means. The argument that it's good for the local economy is not sound and the evidence of so many years suggests the opposite. That all our rogue council are doing is selling off land which is there for the communities purpose, to put lots of people into one space. People who may well spend money but that money will be channelled to the many private companies such as all these small Tesco, Sainsbury shops and so on.

Meanwhile we're doing nothing about our dependency on cars either whilst our city is bursting at the seams and our communities literally divided by roads.

I think it highly likely that people will look back on this in years to come and hang their heads in shame. It all stinks very, very badly.
Desperate times. Finally our Labour council get to sell off more of our land. Land which is in the hands of the council who are supposed to look after our communities first. Instead they are literally selling off our communities. That is what this is, public property placed into the hands of private, it is privatisation. Labour are privatising our communities because we are desperate for money due to them being rubbish with our money. Yet we still vote them in. As much as I feel education is important, we are increasingly allowing powerful, rich organisations which are becoming increasingly elite, to buy everything for their own means. The argument that it's good for the local economy is not sound and the evidence of so many years suggests the opposite. That all our rogue council are doing is selling off land which is there for the communities purpose, to put lots of people into one space. People who may well spend money but that money will be channelled to the many private companies such as all these small Tesco, Sainsbury shops and so on. Meanwhile we're doing nothing about our dependency on cars either whilst our city is bursting at the seams and our communities literally divided by roads. I think it highly likely that people will look back on this in years to come and hang their heads in shame. It all stinks very, very badly. Geoff Roberts
  • Score: 4

11:09am Sat 29 Sep 12

Geoff Roberts says...

Isn't Bob Price the HR director at Brookes too? One of the main universities. Isn't that a conflict of interest? Hardly anyone mentions it.
Isn't Bob Price the HR director at Brookes too? One of the main universities. Isn't that a conflict of interest? Hardly anyone mentions it. Geoff Roberts
  • Score: 2

12:27pm Sat 29 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

Geoff Roberts wrote:
Isn't Bob Price the HR director at Brookes too? One of the main universities. Isn't that a conflict of interest? Hardly anyone mentions it.
It's mentioned fairly regularly. Do you think it's better if councillors are elected from a pool of people who don't actually work in the city?

Any idea who actually made the gun threat?
[quote][p][bold]Geoff Roberts[/bold] wrote: Isn't Bob Price the HR director at Brookes too? One of the main universities. Isn't that a conflict of interest? Hardly anyone mentions it.[/p][/quote]It's mentioned fairly regularly. Do you think it's better if councillors are elected from a pool of people who don't actually work in the city? Any idea who actually made the gun threat? Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

1:11pm Sat 29 Sep 12

Geoff Roberts says...

Maybe it was the lad who threatened to shoot me outside my house the other day because I asked him and his friend to cycle on the road instead of the pavement. There's plenty of morons around who think they can acheive something by pretending to be some kind of gangster.

Good question regarding councillors being elected from people who work in the city.

I'm not suggesting that councillors should not be elected from people who in the city though. If think there has to be some balance though. If we opened it right up then we could for example have a director of British Gas as the leader of Oxford City Council. I'm not suggesting that would be a bad thing, in fact, it might actually be better than having someone who works for a major private landowner such as Brookes because British Gas's business doesn't necessarily need to aqcuire more land in order to expand!
Maybe it was the lad who threatened to shoot me outside my house the other day because I asked him and his friend to cycle on the road instead of the pavement. There's plenty of morons around who think they can acheive something by pretending to be some kind of gangster. Good question regarding councillors being elected from people who work in the city. I'm not suggesting that councillors should not be elected from people who in the city though. If think there has to be some balance though. If we opened it right up then we could for example have a director of British Gas as the leader of Oxford City Council. I'm not suggesting that would be a bad thing, in fact, it might actually be better than having someone who works for a major private landowner such as Brookes because British Gas's business doesn't necessarily need to aqcuire more land in order to expand! Geoff Roberts
  • Score: 0

1:12pm Sat 29 Sep 12

Geoff Roberts says...

**** my writing is bad today! Sorry.
**** my writing is bad today! Sorry. Geoff Roberts
  • Score: 0

1:14pm Sat 29 Sep 12

Geoff Roberts says...

Crikey, I wasn't expecting that word to be censored. Blimey. Jeepers.
Crikey, I wasn't expecting that word to be censored. Blimey. Jeepers. Geoff Roberts
  • Score: 1

6:01pm Sat 29 Sep 12

Myron Blatz says...

It's all about "City Council's arrogant, myopic policies on asset management" a bloke on the train told me the other week. Not sure what he meant - but then again, few seem to understand what Cllr Tanner and his Labour cronies say, either! On the other hand, Cllr Fooks (despite being a LibDem) probably reflects the views of many council tax payers in Oxford about this St Clements long-running saga - and certainly those people who actually live and work in this part of central Oxford - including the bloke I met on the train. Whilst Labour might (currently) have a 'stranglehold' on City Council, don't fancy its chances in next year's County Council Elections!
It's all about "City Council's arrogant, myopic policies on asset management" a bloke on the train told me the other week. Not sure what he meant - but then again, few seem to understand what Cllr Tanner and his Labour cronies say, either! On the other hand, Cllr Fooks (despite being a LibDem) probably reflects the views of many council tax payers in Oxford about this St Clements long-running saga - and certainly those people who actually live and work in this part of central Oxford - including the bloke I met on the train. Whilst Labour might (currently) have a 'stranglehold' on City Council, don't fancy its chances in next year's County Council Elections! Myron Blatz
  • Score: 0

8:27pm Sat 29 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

Geoff Roberts wrote:
Maybe it was the lad who threatened to shoot me outside my house the other day because I asked him and his friend to cycle on the road instead of the pavement. There's plenty of morons around who think they can acheive something by pretending to be some kind of gangster.

Good question regarding councillors being elected from people who work in the city.

I'm not suggesting that councillors should not be elected from people who in the city though. If think there has to be some balance though. If we opened it right up then we could for example have a director of British Gas as the leader of Oxford City Council. I'm not suggesting that would be a bad thing, in fact, it might actually be better than having someone who works for a major private landowner such as Brookes because British Gas's business doesn't necessarily need to aqcuire more land in order to expand!
Not the best example. British Gas is a massive employer in Oxford!

They are in the process of moving their Business headquarters from Slough to the Oxford Business park. The group have pre-leased the massive brand new building in course of construction that can be seen from the bypass. 1000 existing BG Oxford employees will be moving-in in the early Spring with more to follow.
[quote][p][bold]Geoff Roberts[/bold] wrote: Maybe it was the lad who threatened to shoot me outside my house the other day because I asked him and his friend to cycle on the road instead of the pavement. There's plenty of morons around who think they can acheive something by pretending to be some kind of gangster. Good question regarding councillors being elected from people who work in the city. I'm not suggesting that councillors should not be elected from people who in the city though. If think there has to be some balance though. If we opened it right up then we could for example have a director of British Gas as the leader of Oxford City Council. I'm not suggesting that would be a bad thing, in fact, it might actually be better than having someone who works for a major private landowner such as Brookes because British Gas's business doesn't necessarily need to aqcuire more land in order to expand![/p][/quote]Not the best example. British Gas is a massive employer in Oxford! They are in the process of moving their Business headquarters from Slough to the Oxford Business park. The group have pre-leased the massive brand new building in course of construction that can be seen from the bypass. 1000 existing BG Oxford employees will be moving-in in the early Spring with more to follow. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 3

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