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Court battle will not stop work on building, says university
THE Oxford University school behind a controversial building in Jericho has pledged to continue with construction despite an ongoing court battle.
Russian billionaire Leonard Blavatnik gave Oxford University £75m to set up the Blavatnik School of Government and construction work has already begun on its new home in Walton Street.
But businessman David Freud who runs Freuds bar next to the site, has launched a judicial review of the planning permission granted by Oxford City Council in May.
Work on the building began shortly afterwards, with the removal of bodies from the former Radcliffe Infirmary buried under the site. Construction has now begun and the wall along Walton Street been demolished.
Blavatnik spokesman Alison Stibbe said: “Our planning application was carefully scrutinised and consent was granted in May.
“Mr Freud’s challenge to this planning permission was examined by an experienced planning judge who refused permission to apply for judicial review.
“We understand Mr Freud has decided to ask the court to reconsider this decision in a hearing. We will attend the hearing to oppose Mr Freud’s application.”
Oxford University has also said it will be moving students into the controversial Castle Mill development despite a seperate judicial review.
If either review is successful the university could be obliged to demolish the buildings.
Campaigner Sushila Dhall, who has objected to both developments, said: “I would say the university is being cavalier.
“Oxford University is a supremely confident institution, and once they know they can get away with something they don’t expect any sort of process to stand in their way.”
The city council’s decision to approve the building – designed by Swiss architectural firm Herzog and de Meuron – was controversial because it broke its guidelines on height. The guidelines hold that buildings within 1,200m of the 23m-high Carfax Tower are prevented from exceeding 18.2m. The new school of government will be 22.5m high.
Mr Freud, who created the café in the former St Paul’s Church, claims his Grade II-listed neo-classical building would be overwhelmed by the school of government.
He maintains five members of the city council committee which approved the plans had conflicts of interest which none declared – though they dispute this.
He has also objected to the new building on other grounds, including the removal of between 300 and 500 bodies buried on the site.
City council spokesman Eva Oliver said: “The permission remains valid unless and until Mr Freud can convince the High Court to quash it. Oxford City Council does not consider that Mr Freud will be able to do this.”
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