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Brookes bosses 'disappointed' by new city council scrutiny
2:55pm Thursday 4th March 2010 in News
BOSSES at Oxford Brookes University have expressed their disappointment after city councillors again called in their plans to redevelop the university’s Headington campus.
The future of the £132m scheme, which will house the university’s library, IT suite, lecture theatre and student union, will now be determined at a special meeting of the full council on Thursday, March 18.
Like the earlier scheme, the plans were approved by the council’s strategic development control committee. Again, however, a group of city councillors decided to call in the decision.
Paul Large, acting registrar at Brookes, said he hoped this time the full council would support the university’s proposals.
He said: “We are very disappointed some councillors decided to call in this application because the building plans are critical to our future and our ongoing contribution to the city’s economy.
“We will ensure every councillor has the opportunity to understand the significant compromises we have made and that we have addressed every reason for our original plans being refused last September.”
Mr Large added: “The council received a number of representations from the community about these plans, and we were hugely encouraged by the level of support, including from key figures such as the writer Philip Pullman, restaurateur Raymond Blanc and the Oxford Economic Partnership.”
Headington city councillor David Rundle, one of the councillors who called in the application, said it was important such a major scheme was given a full airing in the council.
He said: “Brookes has done a lot to respond to the significant criticisms raised about the building last time. It will be a finely balanced judgement.
“I think there is only one planning issue that needs to be discussed and that is whether the overbearing of neighbouring properties is excessive.”
The former Lib Dem group leader also called in the original scheme but was one of a large group of councillors unable to attend the meeting which rejected the scheme last September.
Campaigner Susan Lake, of the Headington Hill Residents’ Association, is among a group of residents who fear the new student centre would create light and noise pollution, despite the university lowering the height of its building by up to three metres.
She said: “Brookes has wasted two years by insisting on this scheme. It needs to be a different building in a different position.”
Councillors who signed the call-in were Green councillors Nuala Young, Craig Simmons, David Williams, Elise Benjamin, Mary-Jane Sareva, Matt Morton and Sushila Dhall; Lib Dem councillors David Rundle, Clark Brundin and Christopher Scanlan; Labour’s Mark Lygo; and Stuart Craft, of the Independent Working Class Association.