SHUTTERS are going up at shops in Cornmarket Street as Jesus College prepares for a major redevelopment.

Last month city councillors backed plans for the revamp of Northgate House on the corner of Cornmarket Street and Market Street.

The scheme, featuring a tower, will retain retail units on the lower levels with 68 student rooms above, plus the ‘gatehouse’ providing teaching rooms or exhibition space.

The project was previously approved in July but called in for a second opinions when 14 councillors raised fears about the highest point of the building sitting at 21.3m - 3m above city centre height restrictions set out in the Local Plan.

But applicants Jesus College, alongside city council planning officers, argued successfully that the restriction was out of date.

Now black shutters have been going up on units in Cornmarket on the blocking bordering Market Street.

Retail expert Keith Slater said: “Now that planning permission has been granted shoppers need to get used to seeing some changes and there could be some disruption as building work progresses.

“Cornmarket needs to remain an important shopping destination while this work is taking place.

“It’s a good opportunity to improve the area around Market Street and, hopefully, the Market Street entrance of the Covered Market.

“I think that entrance, compared to the High Street entrance, does get overlooked.

“If Jesus College decides to create smaller units then that could be a way of boosting the number of independent businesses.”

Shutters have now been put up at American Candy, a sweet store which replaced River Island when it transferred to the Westgate Centre in October, and at Carphone Warehouse.

The former Next store also remains closed but clothing chain Fat Face remains open.

A member of staff said: “It’s business as normal as far as I’m aware and we are open for the foreseeable future.”

Labour city councillor and Lord Mayor Colin Cook said he hoped the flow of shoppers in Cornmarket would not be interrupted.

He added: “A lot of materials are recycled on site these days so I’m hoping this will not be too disruptive.”

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Jesus College principal, said earlier this year that the college was “ mindful of the need to maintain and enhance the quality of its retail outlets in Cornmarket and Market Street, which form an important part of its commercial interests and contribute much to the centre of the city”.

The principal is hoping the scheme will lead to the “reanimation” of Market Street. Dr Henry Cheng is helping to fund the work.