CAMPAIGNERS fear plans to build new student flats on Oxford’s High Street will damage the city’s famous skyline.

Oriel College has submitted proposals for an extra floor to be built on top of the Grade II listed Rhodes Building.

The extension will provide 11 student rooms.

The Victorian Society opposes the plans, citing fears the new student block will alter views across the city, particularly from St Mary’s Church tower on the opposite side of High Street.

Oxford City Council began a period of consultation on the plans yesterday and a final decision on whether to give the scheme the go-ahead is due to be taken on Tuesday, March 9.

Kristian Kaminski, conservation adviser to the Victorian Society, said: “Oxford’s historic roofscape is one of its important characteristics and it is therefore disappointing to see that Oriel College proposes alterations which would harm it.

“The college claims that the famous view from St Mary’s tower is not impeded, but the view will certainly change.”

The society is also campaigning to make the building Grade II* listed which would put more obstacles in the way of any potential further re-development.

Plans by the college to alter the windows and roof height will also damage the original architect’s designs, the society says.

The rooftop redevelopment has been designed by Marcus Beale Architects in London and follows 18 months of consultation by the college.

A report by the architects said the design meant the roof was hidden by the gables and the overall height of the building remained the same.

Oriel College bursarWilf Stevenson said: “These are very sensitive proposals.”

The Rhodes Building was designed by architect Basil Champneys in 1908 and opened three years later.

It was built following a bequest from Cecil Rhodes, the mining magnate and politician, who was an undergraduate at the college.

Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, was named after him.