Planning Minister hugely critical of Port Meadow development

Nicky Moeran, Save Port Meadow Campaign, Planning Minister Nick Boles MP and local MP Nicola Blackwood

22nd January 2014

‘One of the worst planning process I have ever encountered’ says Nick Boles and calls on the Council and University to apologise.

Planning Minister Nick Boles MP last week visited the controversial Oxford University accommodation development on the edge of the City’s Port Meadow, a Special Area of Conservation.  

The Minister said: ‘Nothing quite prepares you for the awfulness of it all until you see it in situ. It’s as if somebody had built the Maze prison on the edge of Oxford.’

He went on to describe the Roger Dudman Way development as ‘one of the worst examples of modern design I have seen in a year and a half as Planning Minister and one of the one of the worst examples of the planning process I have ever encountered‘.

He also said that ‘the City Council and University owe local people an apology‘.

Hear, hear!

Sadly, the City Council’s response was not to apologise but to continue digging itself into a hole.   Council leader Bob Price even went on BBC Radio Oxford to claim that statutory consultees such as English Heritage had not complained about the scheme.

That’s because English Heritage was never consulted!   All part of the atrocious consultation process that took place, as confirmed by the Council’s own Review which found that ‘some of those most affected were not involved or even aware of the application or processes’.

Mr Price went on to say that it was ‘difficult to see precisely what was getting people so exercised’.

After all this time, he still hasn’t understood how angry and upset the people of Oxford are about the cavalier approach that has been taken to one of our most beautiful natural and historic sites. 

An apology would indeed be a great start but what we also need now is action to start putting things right.   As a result of CPRE Oxfordshire’s court case last year, the City Council and the University have agreed to undertake a retrospective Environmental Impact Assessment.   We hope they will engage in this process fully and frankly, but so far the signs aren’t good…