A BURSAR has criticised new paving stones outside his college, saying they would “be fine in Aberdeen” but not Oxford.

Hertford College’s Dr Andrew Beaumont said Oxford City Council’s £12,414 project to lay the granite paving had come to a halt after the college complained.

There are concerns the stones, in Catte Street, opposite the Bodleian Library, do not meet strict guidelines for the Oxford Central Conservation Area.

He said: “We spoke to the council to raise our objection and they were very helpful.

“Our chief objection is that the paving does not fit in with the conservation area.

“Granite with quartz in it would be fine in Aberdeen, but not in the middle of Oxford. It is not in keeping with the city aesthetic. We are presently engaged in a positive discussion with representatives of the city council, to determine a solution that is safe, durable, and sympathetic to the surrounding landscape of Catte Street and other historically-sensitive areas.”

Work started on Friday, August 8, the council said and was stopped on Tuesday, August 19.

The council said it was still in talks with the college but could not confirm why the work was halted.

The conservation area – which puts greater restrictions on development – is characterised by limestone buildings and York stone pavements.

City councillor Susanna Pressel said: “They did it with good intentions, but it looks as though the highways department did not contact the conservation officers to make sure the materials were right. Nobody likes what is there now. It does not fit in with the area and looks out of place.”

Council spokesman Chofamba Sithole said the work had been carried out to repair damaged paving.

He said: “The existing paving outside Hertford College consisted of pre-cast concrete paving and not natural stone.

“It was damaged in places and had sections temporarily filled with tarmac. We replaced the damaged concrete paving with a superior product called Eco-Granite.”

He confirmed council officers were in discussions with the college and its conservation officer to “resolve the issue of the type of paving used”.

Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, paid for the works.

When the city council considers conservation area projects, it must take into account its “special character”. That can include building materials used – such as the type of paving stones – the techniques of construction and the scale of the development.

The council’s own guidelines say it will “resist” schemes which are considered to “harm or undermine” the conservation area’s character or appearance.



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