A RECENT announcement by Alex Hollingsworth (Oxford city councillor) and Peter Thompson (Civic Society leader), referring to planning matters, stated that the height of restriction of buildings within a three-mile radius of Carfax tower may have to be abandoned.

This is to allow developers to build tower blocks in order to solve the housing crisis. This is no solution but sheer vandalism of a long-standing commitment. City councillors and civic leaders should realise that they are elected or appointed as guardians of our beautiful city, which should be preserved as a national treasure for present and future generations to admire and enjoy.

It now appears that our councillors and civic leaders have short memories as they have apparently forgotten the fuss, the debates and time wasted in trying to make Oxford University authorities change and modify the student accommodation blocks overlooking Port Meadow. The late Douglas Murray, once head of the city architects and planning department, introduced the height limit as he appreciated that the

Oxford skyline was unique and should be preserved. Famous writers have made references to it, notably Mathew Arnold who wrote “And that sweet city with her dreaming spires”. This picture of Oxford would be lost if we allow this restriction to be removed or amended.

This height rule should be strictly observed. Similarly the Green Belt should not be encroached upon, especially when there are plenty of brownfield sites in and around Oxford. It is pointless saying that ‘conditions’ would be placed before planning permission is granted. Oxford City has a very poor record of enforcement and developers have got away with non-compliance due to officers being too lax.

We have houses in Rose Hill, erected soon after the last World War, which carried a condition that they would be replaced by brick buildings within 15 years.

These prefabricated homes are still standing 70 years later, this despite the fairly recent regeneration of the estate. So much for the application of ‘conditions’.