HEADINGTON campaigners are bracing themselves for a “fight” after controversial plans for new student accommodation were refused at a planning meeting.
The 167-bed project, Beech House, would mean the demolition of four homes on the corner of London Road and Latimer Road.
There is already 313-bed student housing, Dorset House, near to the proposed site and residents have been campaigning against the plans for a year.
Councillor Roy Darke, who chaired the East area planning committee meeting last Wednesday, said: “I’m very surprised by the decision and I’m quite certain that it will be overturned soon.
“The vote was two versus one against it but I really think we should have approved it.
“It was a sensible and well-thought out plan and I think it is an ideal location for student accommodation.”
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After a public consultation on the plans in October 2014, an initial scheme was reduced from 184 student rooms to 175, but increased from four storeys to five.
Plans then submitted in March this year received more than 200 written objections, prompting the developer, Frontier Estates, to put forward amendments in October. Roger Smith, the agent on behalf of the developer, said that he would be taking comments from the meeting on board.
He said: “It’s only early days and I can’t say yet whether or not we will be appealing the decision.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the outcome but we will be considering all of the comments made my residents and councillors at the meeting.
“We do think it’s a great proposal and good location.”
Headington resident Judy Raven said she wanted to congratulate the committee on making a “wise” decision.
She added: “We’re not going to jump up and down just yet because we’ve still got a long way to go but is is a good first step.
“We’re going to keep on fighting because putting this development on Latimer Road just isn’t right, it’s in a completely inappropriate location.
“Not only would the accommodation look on to the playground of Headington Preparatory School but it’s on the same road as a care home.
“The student population would be far too dense in Headington if it goes ahead and we can only hope our voices are heard at the next meeting.”
Residents will now wait to see if the application is called in by the planning review committee, a decision which would need the support of 12 councillors.
The next scheduled meeting of the committee is on December 23, at the town hall in St Aldate’s at 6pm.