A CONSULTATION on plans for controversial student flats in Roger Dudman Way, Oxford, was inadequate, a review has found.
The independent review into the scheme on the edge of Port Meadow looked into the issue of how planning applications are considered following the fall-out from Oxford University’s Castle Mill student homes plan.
The development triggered criticisms from campaigners after it became clear that it was blocking views of Oxford’s “dreaming spires” from Port Meadow.
Now Vincent Goodstadt’s review of the planning process which led to the building of the development – and the subsequent complaints over its size and scale – has cleared Oxford City Council of malpractice.
But it criticises the university, and goes on to say that a series of errors led to a consultation being inadequate and failing to reach the people who would be affected by the development.
In the report, Mr Goodstadt said: “The findings of this review are that the controversy created by the RDW [Roger Dudman Way] development lies in series of separated but clearly inter-related individual decisions, assumptions and judgements made at each stage of the planning process.
“The combined effect resulted in inadequate consultation on the proposals and a less detailed assessment of the proposals than there could have been.”
He said several aspects led to the situation, including a tight timescale, the significant differences between the new plans and a previously approved scheme from 2002 and the consultation arrangements themselves.
He said communities which used Port Meadow had not been included in a list of those to be consulted, and residents of nearby William Lucy Way had also not been invited to comment.
The review report also criticised the university for its application, which Mr Goodstadt said “contained errors and was not adequate in various ways”.
Nicky Moeran, from the Save Port Meadow group, said: “The heart of the document contains some very damning findings for both the city council and the university, which all tie in with what we have said repeatedly over the last 12 months.”
City council chief executive Peter Sloman said his authority had learned from the experience.
He said: “I agree with the report that, with the benefit of hindsight, the council and other organisations could have done more in this particular case. We want all the developments in our city to be of the highest quality.
“I also accept the report’s recommendations for improving aspects of the service.”
A University of Oxford spokesman said: “This is an 80-page report that we’ll want to read in full and consider carefully. Vincent Goodstadt has offered to meet representatives of the university to feedback his recommendations and the university is intending to set this up early in the New Year.”