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Brookes plans to downsize campus bid
OXFORD Brookes University is set to submit its new plans for a smaller redevelopment of its Headington campus in the next few days.
The new plans for a £132m library and teaching building look to have won over some opponents of the original scheme rejected by Oxford City Council in September.
That scheme was considered too large and the university redrew its plans. The height of the library has been reduced – from five storeys with a basement, to four storeys with a larger underground section – cutting three metres off the height.
The new plans also show the building two metres further away from the western boundary, with reading rooms projecting into a proposed public square to make the building appear less flat.
The university put the plans on show hoping to win over its opponents, and yesterday Oxford Civic Society welcomed the compromise.
Chairman Tony Joyce said: “What they are now proposing is clearly an improvement.
“There are still some modifications which local residents would like to see if possible, so that the development can be achieved with the minimum of adverse impact on residents, which is Brookes’ aspiration. Brookes might not have gone quite as far as some would have liked but there has to be a compromise.”
Susan Lake, one of the Headington Hill residents against the scheme, said they would continue to press for a further height reduction.
She said: “We feel there could be a rearrangement of the buildings to meet us halfway. We want them to push it further down and spread it outwards but the university still wants this so-called piazza.”
The university’s acting registrar, Paul Large, said he was happy with the initial response from residents following the unveiling of the new plans earlier this month.
Mr Large said: “People have acknowledged we’ve made quite a significant amount of movement to address the issues raised when the last application was refused.
“People said they liked the look and feel of the new building, which did not happen last time, and we feel ourselves that this is a better design.
“Important compromises have been made to try to find a building that works for as many people as possible, while staying true to the original vision of creating excellent learning and teaching facilities and a first class library. We have now gone as far as we possibly can to soften the impact of the building and reduce its height.”
The total cost of transforming the campus will be £150m.
A bid to build 44 student flats in Magdalen Road, which was rejected by the city’s East Area Parliament after complaints from residents, has been called in by Labour councillors.
The plans by developer Vanderbilt sparked concern the area would become a student “ghetto”. They will be considered by the city’s strategic development committee tonight.