Plans for a former paper mill site back on the table

John Bleach

John Bleach

First published in News

PROPOSALS for a development on a former paper mill site in Wolvercote could be revived after new talks were revealed to be under way.

Owner, Oxford University said in May it could look to sell the 17-acre site, off Mill Road, without planning permission after plans for 190 homes there received a series of objections.

But this week a spokesman told the Oxford Mail it is seeking to submit renewed plans before the end of the year.

University spokesman Matt Pickles said: “We have been meeting with city councillors and representatives of the Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum and Wolvercote Commoners and agreed to look at certain issues around the application.

“It is hoped the amendments to the application will be brought forward before the end of the year to go through the usual planning process including public consultation.”

The university has been seeking planning permission for the scheme so it can sell the site for a greater amount of money, but has hit a series of setbacks.

The Environment Agency said the plans did not address flooding concerns and Oxfordshire County Council warned of its impact on a 20mph speed limit.

Residents also feared that the extra homes would burden nearby roads with congestion.

But Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum chairman John Bleach said the group was now waiting to hear back from the university regarding the latest round of discussions.

He said: “I can confirm we are back in discussions with the university.

“We have come a long way working with them and we would like to finish this stage, rather than it being prematurely ended by the university selling the site without planning permission.”

Mr Pickles said in May that the university, which originally wanted planning permission, would instead consider selling the land without it. He said: “The university is considering whether or not it wishes to proceed with the application as submitted, whether it should amend it, or whether it should consider disposing of the site without resolving planning.”

The paper mill, off Mill Road, was demolished in 2004 after being closed by Oxford University Press (OUP) in 1998.

Production of paper there dated back to at least 1674 and OUP bought the site in 1970.

The university first put forward plans for a £40m scheme – including 200 homes – which was scrapped in 2011.

The last plans for the site, estimated to be worth £30m, were submitted to the city council in July last year.

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