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Controversial plans for former Ruskin building approved
PLANS to demolish the former Jericho home of Ruskin College, keeping the Walton Street facade, were approved last night.
Exeter College won permission from Oxford City Council’s west area planning committee despite pleas from residents to reject the controversial scheme.
The plans will see all but the 1913 facade demolished for 90 student rooms and teaching facilities in a quadrangle design, in a move that would increase total floor space by 39 per cent.
South Jericho Residents’ Association’s Mary Keen said while the return of students was to be welcomed, the design was too ambitious and too tall.
She said: “This plan tries to put a quart into a pint pot.”
Ruskin College, which caters for adult students without previous formal education, moved to Dunstan Road, Old Headington, last year after selling the Walton Street site to Exeter. The building is currently empty.
Oxford Civic Society vice-president Tony Joyce objected at the meeting, saying the “unique building in terms of the history of the development of working men’s education” needs “very special attention”.
But Exeter College bursar William Jensen said its Turl Street home only accommodates 147 of its 320 students and the plan is for an “exceptional building”.
Council member Colin Cook said the scheme will free up private housing currently used by Exeter students, adding: “This building will provide public benefit and the efficient use of land.”
But fellow member Jean Fooks said at Oxford Town Hall: “We don’t want to repeat the mistake of letting our need for student housing outweigh the need for other considerations.”
Elise Benjamin said the scheme is too large and will stand out too much.
English Heritage also objected but the plan was passed by six votes to three.
Although the application was approved, it will now have to go to the Government for listed building consent.
- The committee also passed a plan for Ruskin School of Art in Bullingdon Road, East Oxford, to demolish its buildings for new workshops, studios, seminar rooms and offices.
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