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CPRE calls City to account on Port Meadow

Thursday, 21 March 2013 10:08

the new buildings loom over Port Meadow the new buildings loom over Port Meadow Photo: © Jane Tomlinson

CPRE Oxfordshire has begun a legal challenge to the planning permission that allowed the construction of the University’s accommodation blocks on Roger Dudman Way, on the edge of Port Meadow.

Last week, CPRE received a legal opinion from Robert McCracken QC that the City Planners, however unintentionally, may have acted unlawfully at key moments in this planning process. CPRE has now presented this opinion to the City Council and asked them to send a response within 14 days.

Helen Marshall, Director of CPRE Oxfordshire, said: “This is an appalling development that absolutely decimates the historic landscape and skyline of Port Meadow.  

“However, the Council can still act to use its powers to revoke or amend the planning permission. The University should also play its part by admitting that the development is inappropriate and entering negotiations with the Council in a more meaningful way.

“We do not wish to give further details about the legal opinion until we have heard back from the City Council. Depending on their response, the next step will be to seek a judicial review of the process.

Meanwhile, campaigners have discovered that a report from the Council’s own Heritage Officer, which outlined the significant harm the development would cause, was not shared with councillors before the decision to grant planning permission.

The Heritage Officer’s report only came to light following a Freedom of Information request, yet it clearly states that ‘there is no justification’ for the harm that would be caused by the development.   It is simply disgraceful that councillors were not made aware of this until our campaigners unearthed the document.

The public response to the development has been absolute shock and horror.   CPRE will now be launching a fundraising campaign to help us take on this legal fight and protect Port Meadow for future generations.

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