AN OXFORD college is to carry out “significant” repairs to its priory after water leaks caused salt stalactites to form.

Blackfriars Hall in St Giles has requested permission to waterproof its cellar and to also improve what it calls the “unsightly” front quadrangle.

Water leaks have been found throughout the premises and corroding beams “that needed to be inspected by a structural engineer”, the college said, had been identified more than 20 years ago by the last conditions survey.

Prior John O’Connon said the works would require digging up a section of the quad. He said: “These works present an ideal opportunity to improve the appearance of the front quadrangle.

“At present [it] is little used and is not aesthetically pleasing, even though it is centrally located within the Blackfriars building complex and is a part most visible to the general public.”

Oxford Civic Society trustee Gillian Argyle cautiously welcomed the plans, but said she expected them to go under “proper scrutiny”.

A spokesman for the college said: “An application was submitted to the Archdiocese of Birmingham Historic Churches Committee on April 17. There are 28 days to comment on the plans.”