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Ex-plumber aims to sink new flats plan
NEARLY 500 people have objected to a controversial development of flats, shops and a community facility in Cowley.
A 473-signature petition was handed across at the Town Hall this week by members of the Middle Cowley Residents Action Group (MCRAG).
Protesters are unhappy with the current plan for flats, a community centre and a ground-floor retail space on the site of the former Cowley Community Centre.
MCRAG chairman Martin Tasker, 62, said: “People have been objecting about the height of the building, the size of the building, the lack of parking and the effect on the neighbouring area. It is going to tower over the housing in Knolles Road by 50ft at least.
“Living rooms facing this new building will be in total darkness all day because of the height of the building. We were hoping for 200 to 300 signatures so we are pleased to get so many.”
The scheme is backed by Kevin McCloud, presenter of TV show Grand Designs. Oxford City Council is to ask developer Haboakus to increase the size of community facilities included in the scheme from 182 sq m to 210 sq m.
MCRAG claims the proposal for a community room is too small and is effectively the size of “a living room”.
It could only cater for a maximum of 30 people. Mr Tasker, a retired plumber from nearby Boswell Road, said: “It’s an absolute nightmare – this is a room that’s the size of most people’s living rooms.
“We want decent facilities, the same as what Northway is getting.
“Why is Cowley not worthy of it?”
Haboakus says it is has received positive feedback on its proposal.
Project manager Marita Ford said: “Since being appointed by Oxford City Council to develop housing schemes in Northway and Cowley we have remained focused on delivering the best results for local people and Oxford as a whole.
“We have received a lot of positive feedback from local residents about our proposals and firmly believe the schemes will greatly benefit the community.
“Before getting to this point we held three sets of well-publicised public consultation events and have changed our plans to address concerns.
“We believe our proposed development in Barns Road is a thoughtful, high quality scheme which works well within its context.”
The developer also said the new homes would be for low cost rent.
A council spokesman said: “We have been working closely with Haboakus as well as the local community on the new facilities at Barns Road. We will judge the planning application on its own merits.”