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Call to reveal St Clement's car park plan
VOTERS are calling on Oxford City Council and developers to come clean about fresh plans to build student flats on St Clement’s car park.
The future of the car park has emerged as a key issue in East Oxford during campaigning for next month’s city council elections, with traders warning the loss of parking will damage the commercial life of the area.
On Monday residents will call on the council to pull out of its contract with the Watkin Jones Group, which wants to develop the council-owned car park.
With new plans for student flats thought to be imminent, residents are angry that details will not be made public before voters go to the polls on May 3.
An earlier scheme for 141 student rooms on the site, in three blocks, was narrowly rejected by the council in September last year.
As well as lodging an appeal against the decision, the developers then asked architects to come up with new plans, with the winners of a design contest due to have been announced by Christmas. It is understood the council stands to receive about £5m if the site is developed.
Talks between the council and the developers are continuing. A joint statement had been expected some weeks ago.
Elizabeth Mills, the Conservative candidate for St Clement’s ward , said: “It’s time to come clean about this before the election results come in. Let’s have some openness and honesty.
A submission to Monday’s full council meeting from East Oxford Area Residents’ Associations Forum calls on the council “to reconsider the sale of St Clement’s car park and return the non-refundable deposit of £350,000 to the Watkin Jones Group”.
While the council’s Labour leadership backs a development, Beverley Clack, the Labour candidate in St Clement’s, said: “St Clement’s does not have good provision for car parking. Whether I am elected or not, I will be doing everything in my power to support the retention of the car park.”
Council leader Bob Price said: “It is quite likely the site will be developed, whether it’s with student housing or something else.”
Paul Gillespie, of Watkin Jones, said the firm wanted to release a statement about progress at the earliest opportunity.
Profiles of candidates in the Oxford, West Oxfordshire and Cherwell elections will appear in the Oxford Mail from Monday, April 30. Results will be posted online on the night of May 3 at oxfordmail.co.uk
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