MORE lives could be lost if West Oxford flats destroyed by an explosion are replaced with more homes, residents have warned.

'Dramatic', 'unsafe', and 'unbelievable' plans have been submitted to replace Gibbs Crescent with a six-storey development of almost double the number of flats there before.

Valentines Day in 2017 saw part of the structure reduced to a flaming pile of rubble after an explosion tore through numerous flats and rocked nearby buildings.

Read again: The Valentines Day blast as it happened

Investigations found fuel stored in the flat of resident Guido Schuette had ignited and the 48-year-old died in what a coroner ruled was likely an accident.

Now, residents have just days to comment on the new plans for the site, proposed by A2Dominion, which include creating 140 flats at the existing 78-flat site.

Oxford Mail:

Pictures of the devastation following the Valentines Day explosion.

Mill Street resident Rhiannon Ash, who submitted concerns to Oxford City Council's planning portal, said neighbours had called for a 'like-for-like' replacement at Gibbs Crescent.

She said: "Even assuming one occupant per bedroom (clearly there will be more inhabitants) we are talking about at least 213 people and realistically there will be many many more.

"Is the council really prepared to entrust these people's lives and safety to the tiny narrow access route to Gibbs Crescent at the end of Mill Street?"

Ms Ash describes regular congestion problems in the narrow streets due to building lorries and deliveries, going on: "I recently witnessed an ambulance which had to wait for 10 minutes to get past a massive lorry parked unattended in the street.

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"This massive redevelopment is not safe in terms of access of emergency vehicles to the Gibbs Crescent site.

"The council has already put up two makeshift signs telling HGV drivers not to use Mill Street (because they cannot turn around if they do access the street).

"I really am concerned that there will be another fatality if the developers are allowed to proceed."

Developers A2Dominion have recently resubmitted revised plans for the new homes in a bid to address local concerns, including those from council officers about the height and landscaping.

Oxford Mail:

Gibbs Crescent as it is today, two years on from the explosion

Developers reduced the overall height of the building, and although the plan is still for 140-flats, they changed the type of flats including building more two-bed flats, and fewer one-beds.

Another neighbouring resident, Mike Magee of Mill Street, commented online: "Although I have plenty of microscopes in my house, I think I'd need an electron microscope to detect the difference between the re-submitted plans and the original plans.

"That's apart from some tweaks to the roof of the development. Otherwise, the six-storey building remains a blot on the Oxford landscape."

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He also added: "The question of access appears to have been completely ignored. I am very concerned that this development is being shoe-horned through the Oxford planning office."

The resubmission of plans from A2Dominion also aimed to address concerns over the design from Historic England.

Following the amendments, the government agency said it no longer had any concerns about the plans on heritage grounds.

Oxford Civic Society commented: "Oxford Civic Society notes the slight change in the combination of property types and some alterations to exterior design including the configuration of the roofs.

"The objections expressed on January 22, 2019, still apply. A smaller well-designed scheme with a mixture of tenure and property types with more family accommodation would have more likelihood of becoming an established community."

Neighbouring Osney Mill Marina owner WH Munsey also said the latest changes did not address its concerns.

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A comment from the firm said: "[Due to] the dramatic increase in density and height, the development will be visually overbearing on the Marina, with many moorings overlooked, and reinforced by increased noise, light pollution and activity.

"The building design has not changed materially in relation to these serious concerns."

The company said it feared the new building could affect its commercial viability, adding: "It is in nobody's interest for the Marina's future to be threatened."

In response to the concerns, A2Dominion said it had amended its plans to create a development that would benefit residents and the wider community.

Oxford Mail:

An aerial view of the Gibbs Crescent site following the explosion.

Director of strategic land planning Simon Potts said: "We have taken on board the feedback received from Oxford City Council and the statutory consultees, and have amended our plans accordingly.

"Our aim for the redevelopment of Gibbs Crescent is to create a mixed tenure and sustainable community that will benefit residents and the wider community."

A planning notice at the site says all comments, as part of the consultation, should be submitted by Friday.

For more details on the plans go to and search application reference 18/03369/FUL