CAN I congratulate the university and the council planning department on an amazing transformation? Since I was a student here, I have used the Thames towpath from Osney, walking to either The Perch Inn at Binsey or The Trout at Wolvercote.

It has been like a delightful, English country lane. You never knew what kind of wildlife you might encounter – not just the occasional, ancient hippy but birds from swans and herons down to finches, butterflies, dragonflies and many different flowers, all dappled with the sunlight and shadow which the Victorian poet Hopkins must have found mesmerizing when he walked this way.

The ramshackle boats and allotment sheds in the background, plus the thought that this stretch is where Lewis Carroll rowed with Alice on board – that all added to the charm. Now, on heading back into Oxford as I gaze across the tree stumps, I once again find myself uplifted and transported – to the cheaply extended outskirts of Warsaw in the late 1950s as I gaze at a row of dreary, lumpen, spire-obscuring, housing blocks.

Such a journey through time and space must be a miracle. How did they do it ? Belatedly chopping the top off these dismal piles will make little difference. It’s not the buildings that deserve decapitation but those who designed, built and sanctioned them. Now I see there’s a planning application for another nine dwellings. Next year, why not build over the river and have done with it ?

NIGEL SPEIGHT, Abbey Road, Oxford