Student hostel plan worry for residents

City councillor Elizabeth Wade outside the property

City councillor Elizabeth Wade outside the property

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering North Oxford, Jericho and Summertown. Call me on 01865 425498

A BID to turn a health centre into student accommodation has sparked fears that Oxford colleges are taking over the suburbs of north Oxford.

University College has applied to change the use of the North Oxford Medical Centre, which shut last November, from a surgery to a nine-bedroom student accommodation block.

It owns several properties within the block of houses bordered by Staverton Road, Banbury Road, Rawlinson Road and Woodstock Road.

And residents are concerned that the college’s latest move is a sign of a larger plan that could see the character of North Oxford drastically change.

St Margaret’s ward city councillor Elizabeth Wade said the change of use application was originally to be delegated to council officers, but has now been called in by councillors at the west area planning committee.

She said: “By itself this application is fairly minimal, but what I am worried about is the salami-slicing going on in the blocks.

“The college has bought up various bits of land in the area and although there is no reason they should not be allowed to do that, residents should be informed about what is going on. This practice is hollowing out whole blocks.”

Permission was already granted by the city council previously to change the former medical centre’s use to a single home, but that had not been carried out, the college said in its letter to officials.

The college said two of the student bedrooms would include wheelchair access and would have common rooms and a kitchen. A porter’s lodge would also be created on the ground floor.

The three-storey building is located within the North Oxford Victorian Suburb Conservation Area.

Government planning inspectors have refused applications which they ruled would damage the character of the area, including one that would have seen two lime trees outside Lady Margaret Hall chopped down.

In its application the college said the property was suitable for student accomodation.

It wrote: “The site is within a convenient location for access to the college as well as local shops and services. Furthermore, the proposed use would have limited impact on nearby properties.”

The application has so far received six comments from residents living in Woodstock and Staverton Road.

They claimed the extra student accomodation would create more noise and disruption in the area.

University College spokesman Mark Chambers said the college was in discussions with residents about their concerns.

He added: “The college wants to be a good neighbour and will consider the points they have raised.

“That has always been our policy and remains the case.”

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Comments (6)

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8:27pm Tue 29 Jul 14

mytaxes says...

Surely North Oxford is an ideal location for student accommodation? More and more student rooms are being built in every other part of Oxford and I would have thought you would welcome them just as you have said we should accept them also.
Surely North Oxford is an ideal location for student accommodation? More and more student rooms are being built in every other part of Oxford and I would have thought you would welcome them just as you have said we should accept them also. mytaxes
  • Score: 3

8:31pm Tue 29 Jul 14

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

Only thing worse than a NIMBY is a rich NIMBY
Only thing worse than a NIMBY is a rich NIMBY Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: 3

9:43pm Tue 29 Jul 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

In the near future a medical centre would bound to be far noisier than student accommodation...

Particularly when they start operating 7am - 9pm Sunday to Saturday.
In the near future a medical centre would bound to be far noisier than student accommodation... Particularly when they start operating 7am - 9pm Sunday to Saturday. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 1

9:00am Wed 30 Jul 14

MrKoworld says...

We've recently moved to North Oxford from Iffley Fields and I would suggest that more students is exactly what this really rather dull corner of the city needs.
We've recently moved to North Oxford from Iffley Fields and I would suggest that more students is exactly what this really rather dull corner of the city needs. MrKoworld
  • Score: 1

1:16pm Wed 30 Jul 14

oafie says...

It takes more property or development of homes out of the equation though? why are University colleges allowed to do this- why not build more student blocks within their hallowed enclaves that are surely vast enough?
It takes more property or development of homes out of the equation though? why are University colleges allowed to do this- why not build more student blocks within their hallowed enclaves that are surely vast enough? oafie
  • Score: -3

2:57pm Wed 30 Jul 14

King Joke says...

Oafie - the 'hallowed enclaves' are actually quite small, particularly places like Hertford, Exeter, Jesus and Teddy Hall.

Mr Koworld - lol, spot on.
Oafie - the 'hallowed enclaves' are actually quite small, particularly places like Hertford, Exeter, Jesus and Teddy Hall. Mr Koworld - lol, spot on. King Joke
  • Score: 0

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