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College plans to build student flats at rear of grade II listed building
PART of a grade II listed building in Oxford city centre could become student accommodation after it was bought by a university college.
Lincoln College says it is considering its options after spending a reported £5.7m on 120-121 High Street.
Part of the building, previously owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland, is used by the NatWest and Coutts banks, and they are expected to stay.
But a newer 8,100 sq ft extension at the rear, which is currently vacant, could be redeveloped.
Tim Knowles, the bursar of Lincoln College, said: “The current tenants will remain there for the foreseeable future. Our original expectation was that we would convert it into student accommodation, and that still remains the most likely outcome.
“But we are considering a number of other options. It makes commercial sense for us to buy the building.
“It is probably reasonable to say that the college has been looking at that building for some considerable time and we were keen to acquire it.
“It completes the college’s ownership of that block on High Street.”
The college would not be drawn on how much it paid for the building, which dates back to the 1860s.
Mr Knowles said the college had recently bought student accommodation in Walton Street and was reassessing its plans to ensure it did not end up with too many student flats. He expected a decision to be made “in the next few months”.
The building, on the corner of Alfred Street, was built in 1866-67 for the London & County Bank, later National Westminster Bank, while 120 High Street was built for Russell’s Music Warehouse.
National Westminster Bank took over the whole building in 1954.
Andrew Inglis, of Royal Bank of Scotland’s agents DTZ, said there had been a lot of interest in the site.
He said: “If this building had been in any other city or town in the UK we wouldn’t have received the level of interest we did.
“In some parts of the UK I imagine this building would be unsellable but Oxford is a bit like the West End of London.”
Graham Jones, of retail group ROX, said: “We think it is probably a very sensible move. The bank will remain, which is quite good. There is pressure from the city council to find student accommodation and the space wouldn’t be good for retail because it is too tucked away.”
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