SPLITTING a key part of the city centre into three might help preserve its character, a report has found.

The city council has recently been reviewing Oxford Central Conservation Area, which has not been changed since 1998.

The protected area was first designated in April 1971.

Read more: Conservation area consultation closes

It, along with others around Oxford, is defined as ‘an area of architectural or historic interest, the character and appearance of which it is desirable or preserve or enhance’.

The authority said St Thomas’s ward, which includes parts of Hythe Bridge Street, Park End Street, the south side of Frideswide Square and the southern part of St Thomas’s Street, could be split into three to help retain its character.

Oxford Mail:

Previously it said it had only looked at the area as one block.

Splitting it up, it said following a consultation, ‘requires further investigation, as it appears to be a better way to consider the buildings in conjunction with their relationship to the existing conservation area’.

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That could mean the council looks at the area around the Church of St Thomas and the housing on St Thomas’ Street together.

St Thomas’ Island site and the properties on Hythe Bridge Street, meanwhile, could now be considered separately.

Oxford Mail:

Consultants said they thought St Thomas’ should be included in the Central Conservation Area.

A fledgling plan to include the southern boundary around Folly Bridge in the area is expected to be rejected.

Consultants Alan Baxter said the council should not change the boundary south of the River Thames near the bridge.

If the area was going to be included in any conservation area, then it should be in a new one, they said.

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Members of the council’s executive board are expected to accept that recommendation tomorrow.

Other areas that could be included in the central area include the University Science Quarter, the Radcliffe Infirmary buildings and the Keble Road triangle.

The University Science Quarter includes buildings for physical chemistry, built in 1930-40, inorganic chemistry, built between 1954 to 1960 and the 1970 zoology and psychology building..

Oxford Mail:

Newer buildings in the quarter include the biochemistry building, completed in 2009, and physics building, finished last year.

The Radcliffe Infirmary buildings were completed between 1759 and 1767 and are either Grade II or Grade II* listed.

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Some of the site is already in the North Oxford Conservation Area but further work will be done to see whether other buildings could be included in the central area.

The council said there is a ‘lack of cohesion’ at the Keble Road triangle but more work will be done on whether to include that, too.