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Crunch time on Port Meadow blocks

Sunday, 07 February 2016 20:24

University's current mitigation offer doesn't stand up to scrutiny, but will City Planning Committee, 9 Feb, show any backbone?  

The long-awaited decision on the University of Oxford’s damaging accommodation blocks at Port Meadow is looming. Oxford City councillors will this week have to decide whether or not to accept the University’s pitiful offer on mitigation.

Predictably, the Officers’ report recommends a complete rollover and acceptance of the University’s minimal proposals. But, given that they are under the watchful eye of people around the world who care about Oxford’s heritage and landscape, we are urging Councillors to insist on more.

Please email the Planning Committee and urge them to demand that the University brings forward proper mitigation: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Members of the public can also come along to the meeting - Oxford City West Area Planning Committee, 6.30pm, Tues 9 February, Oxford Town Hall, St Aldates, Oxford.

CPRE Oxfordshire and Save Port Meadow Campaign Group plan to address the meeting and raise key issues:

- The retrospective Environmental Statement, which was forced out of the University by CPRE and fellow campaigners, identified the serious damage the buildings have done to a number of heritage and landscape assets. The University itself says that the mitigation it is proposing will not address this harm.

- Councillors must decide whether they would have approved the buildings in their current scale, if they had had this clear evidence of harm before them. It seems obvious the answer is ‘no’, they would have insisted on proper mitigation.

- The University claims the harm is justified by the addition of around 30 extra student rooms. The Council’s own documents show that their targets for University accommodation were already being met. The 33 rooms that would be affected by removing a floor make an insignificant contribution.

- Contamination is still a concern. The latest evidence from the Environment Agency confirms that contractors began work before asbestos management policies were discussed and agreed, and there is no available evidence of vital dust monitoring that was legally required. In addition, it is not clear whether the right water pipes were used given the level of ground contamination. We urge councillors not to sign off the planning condition on contamination until these issues are resolved.

The whole Port Meadow saga is one of mistakes, misinformation and bad decisions.

Now Councillors have a final chance to put this right and stand up for the unique and historic landscape of Port Meadow. Please encourage them to do the right thing!


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