THE leader of Oxford City Council said last night he could not guarantee taxpayers’ money would not be spent on reducing the size of the student blocks.

Bob Price said: “I can’t guarantee anything at this stage.

“Any proposition that comes back from these talks will have to go to full council for a decision.

“But in terms of financial availability it [reducing the buildings’ height] would be very expensive.”

Mr Price said that although the development did not interrupt the views of the city, he did not find it attractive.

He said: “It does look different from what I expected.

“I think it is a rather unattractive design. The building materials are very stark and aggressive, and it does not blend in at all with the environment.”

However, he said that he did not regret the council’s decision to grant planning permission, and that nothing had gone wrong in the decision-making process.

He added: “What has happened is that you see the drawings on a map or a plan, then you see a photographic representation and take a judgment because you think that looks okay.

“But when it is first built then it is a much more stark and immediate prospect.

“People make judgments on all sorts of things and find out it is not what they thought it was.

“It is very clear that the application was very minutely described and was fully considered but it was a matter of judgment and the difference between that judgment and reality is a cause for concern.

“I am happy with the process, but not necessarily the decision because it has provoked a regrettable public reaction.”