OXFORD University’s new £45m research building could be delayed after concerns that Headington’s sewage network will not be able to cope.
Thames Water has raised concerns about the fact the new Big Data Institute could have a negative effect on the sewage network in that part of Oxford.
The utility company has said the university needs to make sure the sewage system can handle the impact from the project before work can begin.
In a letter to Oxford City Council, Thames Water said: “With the information provided Thames Water has been unable to determine the waste water infrastructure needs of this application.”
The letter goes on to say the development “may lead to sewage flooding” and urged the city council to impose a condition preventing building work from starting so a sewage study can be carried out.
City councillor for Headington Ruth Wilkinson said: “I am not surprised people are concerned about it and I have asked the questions and I have been told that there will be a plan in place which will be signed off before building work takes place.
“So as far as I can see, it should be part of the planning process.”
Thames Water asked the city council to impose a “Grampian condition” which means that work on the development could not start until the university provides information about whether the area’s sewage network can cope with the scheme.
A spokesman for the company, Becky Trotman, said that the company’s request for the university to look into this does not mean that the sewers in the area are not fit for purpose.
She said: “We cannot allow residents in other areas to be put at risk of sewer flooding so we’ve asked that a planning condition is applied to the proposed development of the Big Data Institute to ensure any potential impact on the sewer network is identified before work begins.
“It’s important the sewers are of a standard that can deal with the increase in waste water which will come from any new developments.”
City council spokesman Chofamba Sithole said: “The council has only just agreed to grant planning permission and the university is still following this matter up.”
An Oxford University spokesman said: “The university continues to work closely with planners on reserved matters relating to the outline planning permission granted for the Big Data Institute and will of course comply with all conditions required of it.”
The city council’s east area planning committee approved the planning application at a meeting earlier this month.
When an outline planning application for the site was considered in 2012 the city council says it told the university to look at the sewage network in the area.
A report carried out for Oxford University says that no foul or surface water shall be discharged into the public system until construction has been completed.
The Oxford Mail asked Oxford University whether the Big Data Insititute would be delayed because of sewage issues, but it did not respond.
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