OXFORD city councillors last night ignored the authority’s own planning guidelines to approve plans for the Blavatnik School of Government building.

Oxford University’s plan to redevelop part of the former Radcliffe Infirmary site, off Walton Street, was voted through by seven votes to two at a west area planning committee meeting.

The new building will allow the school to teach up to 120 students. Its current premises in Merton Street only have space for 38 students.

Opponents of the scheme said the building’s proposed 22m-plus height exceeded the 18.2m restriction usually imposed by the council.

At the meeting, objections were led by David Freud, owner of Freud Cafe, which is housed in the former St Paul’s Church alongside the site.

He raised concerns about the impact the loss of light caused by the new building would have on his premises’ stained glass windows and the desecration of graves on the site.

He said: “These are not anonymous people. We have their names. The people who buried them there believed they would lie there forever.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Freud called the decision “a shocking travesty of the planning process”.

He said: “It was clear that a decision had already been made before the meeting had begun.”

Despite concerns about the height of the building, seven of the nine members of the committee, including council leader Bob Price and the executive member for city development, Colin Cook, voted in favour.

Mr Price said: “Looking at the various views and the quality of the design, I would agree there is no harm to the historic skyline as a consequence of this development and that the case for exception [to the 18.2m height rule] in this case is well made.”

Mr Cook added: “I don’t believe that there is any great harm caused to the views of the city by this development.”

But Green councillor Elise Benjamin said that she was not satisfied.

She reminded fellow councillors of the ongoing battle over the university’s Castle Mill student flats development, next to Port Meadow, which is threatened with judicial review because of its size and scale.

She said: “I don’t object to the design but I think it’s overbearing. I think we should learn from what’s happened in Roger Dudman Way.”

Ms Benjamin was referring to the fierce protest about University student accommodation being built at Castle Mill that campaigners say has blighted the city skyline from Port Meadow.

The building will be funded by a £75m donation to the university from US businessman Leonard Blavatnik.