Householders fear their voices no longer matter and they have “lost control of the planning process” after an “overbearing” three storey block of flats was approved.

Oxford City Council’s planning committee approved property developer Cantay Estates’ proposal for a three-storey building on May 23 and this has left residents who objected in “shock” and “disappointed”.

The proposal included six one-bedroom flats and a similar proposal for the same site was rejected by the council on May 24, 2022.

READ MORE: Oxford planning: Residents slam Summertown flats proposal

Oxford Mail: The impression of the building which was created by residents who have expressed their objections to the buildingThe impression of the building which was created by residents who have expressed their objections to the building (Image: Ed Halford)

Oxford city councillor Katherine Miles, who represents Summertown, has previously told the Oxford Mail the building’s design is not in keeping with the “look and feel of the area”.

READ MORE: Oxford LTNs cause delays to life threatening calls

Kate Williams, who lives on South Parade, said she was “naïve” in believing the planning process would be “democratic”.

She said: “I was shocked at the decision as the councillors seemed to take on board all the concerns we were raising.

“It was primarily the money which drove the approval, so I suppose money talks and nothing else.

“We have absolutely lost control of the planning process.”

Oxford Mail: The surrounding area in North OxfordThe surrounding area in North Oxford (Image: Ed Halford)

Ms Williams said the local campaign had drummed up a lot of supporters and this could not come “out of nothing”.


Oxford Mail: Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here (Image: Newsquest)

After reflecting on the meeting, Ms Williams said that what was most worrying was the committee hardly discussed the proposed building itself and concentrated on the “consequences of not approving the flats”.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson refuses to talk to press outside Oxfordshire home

Roslyn Philps, who lives next door to the approved building, said she is concerned the process is “very much geared towards the developers”.

She said: “We had the support of councillors Katherine Miles and Andrew Gant who called it into committee because they had the same concerns.”

“It will have a detrimental impact on us.

“What was disappointing was the council members acknowledged it was awful which is a travesty.”

Oxford Mail: The surrounding area near Stratfield RoadThe surrounding area near Stratfield Road (Image: Ed Halford)

Mark Wilson, who lives on Oakthorpe Road, said the building was out of place on the street.

He said: “It doesn’t look like anything on Stratfield Road.

“It is a shame the views of the neighbours don’t seem to carry much weight.”

READ MORE: Florence Pugh's father to 'take on' Oxford council in court

Mr Wilson said he would respond to future planning consultations but feared that “similar buildings” in North Oxford would be given the go ahead.

The proposal was rejected previously due to concerns about the development’s impact on neighbours’ privacy but this time round planning officers said, “reasons for objection do not amount, individually or cumulatively, to a reason for refusal and that all the issues that have been raised have been adequately addressed”.

Cantay Estates was approached for comment.

Help support trusted local news 

Sign up for a digital subscription now: 

As a digital subscriber you will get: 

  • Unlimited access to the Oxford Mail website 
  • Advert-light access 
  • Reader rewards 
  • Full access to our app 

About the author 

To sign up to Ed's weekly Politics newsletter, click here:

Ed specialises in writing political stories for the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times. 

He joined in the team in February 2023, after completing a History undergraduate degree at the University of York and studying for his NCTJ diploma in London.

Ed’s weekly politics newsletter is released every Saturday morning.