REVISED drawings have been submitted for plans to build 72 new student rooms in Oxford.

The drawings for the proposal by St Hilda’s College were submitted to Oxford City Council on February 15.

Plans to demolish the existing principal’s lodgings and remove a gym, car park and storage units were initially put forward last year.

In their place will be two student accommodation buildings, replacement principal’s lodgings and gym, and new health and welfare facilities.

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This is the second phase of the Cowley Place college’s plan to provide more bedspace for students.

A planning statement dated April 2021, and prepared by Turnberry Consulting on behalf of St Hilda’s, says the plans will ‘deliver a number of important public benefits for the city’.

The statement adds: “Principally, 72 students will be housed within purpose-built college accommodation, which equates to the release of 29 family homes, easing the pressure on the local private housing market.

“Further public benefits include the improvement of the setting of existing buildings on the site, gains in biodiversity and tree canopy cover, internalising the wider community impacts of student life within the site, rather than community, and enhanced public access to the college grounds.

“The objective of St Hilda’s College is to ensure that all undergraduate students, who wish to live in college accommodation, are able to be housed on-site.

“At present, the distribution of undergraduates and postgraduates is less than ideal, with students dispersed across various sites.”

The two separate student accommodation blocks will be called the ‘Meadow’ and ‘Villa’ buildings.

The Meadow building is a part three and four-storey block with 42 student bedrooms and communal spaces.

Meanwhile, the Villa building will be a four-storey block with 30 student bedrooms, plus a gym, health and welfare facilities, and an office for the neighbouring Jacqueline du Pré music building.

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The principal’s lodgings are to be based on-site in a smaller, riverside house – freeing up the space for the 72-bedroom developments.

However, in a comment objecting to the proposals in June 2021, fellow Oxford college Christ Church wrote: “The proposed redevelopment will have significant implications for the setting of the college.

“In particular, Christ Church owns the 40-acre meadow, a rare open space and historic managed landscape at the heart of Oxford.

“We believe that St Hilda’s proposals are driven by a desire to create a certain number of student rooms with little or no consideration or sympathy for the way they will be seen from Christ Church Meadow.”

The application for the student rooms can be viewed on the city council’s online planning portal, using the reference number 21/01261/FUL.

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