A MULTI-million-pound block of student flats has been delayed to address privacy fears of nearby residents.

Pembroke College wants to knock down part of its riverside accommodation complex, the Geoffrey Arthur Building, and replace it with new flats for graduate students.

Oxford City Council’s west area planning committee was set to give the college permission for the plan at its meeting on Wednesday.

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But councillors on the committee delayed the decision as they were sympathetic to the plight of nearby resident who said new students would be able to see into his dining room and garden.

Oxford Mail:

How the new studio flats would look from the river. Picture: MICA Architects.

Matthew Reece, a resident of Baltic Wharf, told the committee he was not against the planned new building in principle.

Mr Reece said: “I think the argument is that students at their desks would not be overlooking our garden but I think they definitely will be.

“It also overlooks our conservatory… which we use for having our evening meals.”

A total of 12 rooms would face towards Mr Reece’s home and could have a view over his hedgerow.

Writing to the council ahead of the meeting, several other residents of Baltic Wharf and other nearby streets, raised concerns about how construction work would affect access to local roads and the river towpath.

Michael Naworynsky, Pembroke College Bursar, spoke to support the application at the meeting.

He said the college was currently able to house all its undergraduate students, but only 20 per cent of its graduate students.

Mr Naworynsky said: “If this scheme is approved, we will be able to accommodate 60 per cent of our graduate students, relieving the pressure on local housing we believe.”

Oxford Mail:

Picture: Ed Nix.

The committee decided to delay the scheme so council staff could give them more details about the layout of student rooms and their ability to look into the nearby homes at Baltic Wharf.

Mike Gotch, Lib Dem councillors for Summertown, added he wanted to know if there was a way the developer might be able to change the direction the windows faced.

Mr Gotch said: “It is a great shame a good scheme has a serious flaw.”

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He asked if Pembroke College would be able to redraw its plans for the windows but was reminded by chairman Colin Cook that councillors could not redesign buildings by committee.

Oxford Mail:

Highlighted in green: the planned new block of graduate flats. Picture: MICA Architects.

The college hopes to build a new three-storey building at the site which sits next to the River Thames, which will contain 77 student rooms as well as communal areas.

The existing Damon Wells building, which contains a music room and communal areas, would be demolished.

A new four-storey building would also be built at the west side of the site, containing eight studio flats.

The GAB is named after a former master of the college and diplomat, who held his post from 1975 until 1984. His successor was Sir Roger Bannister, who was in post at Pembroke College until 1993.

For more information, see planning reference 19/02032/FUL at the Oxford City Council website.