9:00am Thursday 15th September 2011
By Amanda Williams
A CONTROVERSIAL plan for student flats on an East Oxford car park was last night kicked out by the city council.
The authority’s west area planning committee rejected the proposal – that would have netted the council £5m – by five votes to four.
Residents and traders, who have fought a year-long battle to halt the development, said they were “delighted” with the result.
But they warned it was a “small victory” as they expect the developers to return with alternative plans.
Alan Grosvenor, who runs Sound and Vision in St Clement’s, said: “I am pleased common sense prevailed and they decided to refuse it. It is an awful scheme.
“The business community and local residents have been vindicated in the fight against this.”
Traders had argued the planned 141 student bedrooms in three blocks above the council-owned St Clement’s car park would have hit businesses hard.
It would have cut the number of parking spaces available from 112 to 74 and seen a temporary car park in Marston Road used during the year-long construction.
Residents were also concerned about poor design, the overdevelopment of the area and the potential noise and disturbance.
But despite winning the argument, Mr Grosvenor added: “It is a victory, but a small victory.”
And he said he expected a revised bid to appear.
Restaurateur and fellow campaigner Clinton Pugh added: “We hope the issues that were raised today will be addressed in any future scheme.”
The planning committee rejected the development because of the impact it would have had on car parking and residents.
Labour’s John Tanner, who had championed the scheme, urged the committee to support it and added: “This is good for the city and good for St Clement’s. It makes the best use of space in a city desperate for space.”
Fellow Labour councillor Colin Cook said it was of the “quality” the council should support.
Planning officers had also recommended the plans, submitted by the Watkins Jones Group, go ahead, but the committee rejected that advice.
Committee chairman, Labour’s Oscar Van Nooijen, said: “These buildings do not respond adequately to the setting for which they are proposed. I move to refuse the application.”
More than 640 comments and a 2,929-signature petition against the proposals were received by the council.
After the meeting, East Oxford Residents’ Associations’ Sietske Boeles said she was “delighted”.
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