WORRIES about crime and fires will not stop three blocks of flats being ‘filled in’ with extensions.

Plans to build an extension to the flat blocks at Millway Close, Wolvercote, were approved by Oxford City Council’s west area planning committee on Tuesday night.

Millway Close’s freeholder, James McCarthy, will be able to build four one-bedroom flats as ‘in fills’ over the top of one-storey entrance areas between the current flat blocks.

The plans were given the go-ahead despite worries from residents, who told the committee the tunnels created under the new extensions would be perfect places for crime like drug dealing, and might be a fire risk, as bin stores underneath them could be set on fire.

ALSO READ: Man charged with assaulting woman and damaging her iPhone 8

Natasha Robinson, a leaseholder at the Millway Close flats, urged the committee not to approve the plans.

Ms Robinson said there were currently 54 leasehold flats at Millway Close, and many residents who had lived there for more than 30 years were elderly or vulnerable.

She said building work on the new extension would cause disruption to their lives.

Ms Robinson added: “There have been three fires in Millway Close in recent years, the last in 2013.

“The risk of fire to the buildings becomes more serious with flats above the bin stores.”

Oxford Mail:

The flats at Millway Close from above. Picture: Google Maps.

The last fire at the flats took place when someone set fire to a bin store between two of the blocks which has since been demolished.

Her fellow leaseholder, Nicholas Loft-Simson was also present at the meeting and Ms Robinson read out a letter on his behalf.

Mr letter said Mr Loft-Simson’s main concern was whether residents would be able to stay in their flats while building work took place.

James Gillies, a land agent speaking on behalf of the freeholder Mr McCarthy, said residents would not need to move out while work took place.

He added that asbestos had been found in the building while survey work took place, but the roof area where it lay would not be disturbed by construction work.

ALSO READ: Cyclists to set off from Bicester in The Women's Tour 2020 this summer

Mr Gillies said worries about cycle storage at the flats had been addressed since the application was last discussed in November.

Committee members Alex Hollingsworth and Paul Harris expressed worries about the tunnels created underneath the in-fills and how the darkened areas could become a crime hotspot for drug dealers.

Council staff told them a police planning guide called Secure by Design would probably mean this area would be lit.

To avoid doubt, the committee said the in-fills could only go ahead if the tunnels were properly lit at all times.

When Millway Close was last discussed by the committee in November, residents held up placards which said ‘Millway Close Leaseholder’ to identify their numbers among the crowded public benches at the meeting.