The construction by Oxford University of new four- and five-storey flats for graduate students
on land overlooking Port Meadow has met with fresh opposition.
Despite the council having received no objections in February when planning permission for the Castle Mill site was first sought, groups of residents and local organisations have expressed concern at what they fear will be “lasting damage” to famous views of the city.
“Suggestions that there was a lack of consultation over these buildings are unfair,” said a spokeswoman for the University. ‘The University consulted extensively about the Castle Mill accommodation plans with local councillors, local residents, the City and County councils, and allotment holders, through meetings, public events, display boards, plans and views.’
‘Outline planning approval already existed for a building on this site not much lower than the current buildings, and the University secured planning approval for this particular project through the usual rigorous processes.”
In a recent statement a spokeswoman for Oxford City Council mirrored the University’s comments, “When planning applications are submitted, there is a consultation period for the public to submit their objections. For this application no objections were received by the council raising concerns about the impact of the development on views from Port Meadow.”
However, Sir Fergus Millar, former Oxford University professor of ancient history, claimed, ‘Port Meadow has been preserved as public land for the people of Oxford for more than 1,000 years. Until recently it has been protected as open grazing land, which is not overlooked by large buildings, in which anyone can walk peacefully without their views being obstructed by obtrusive development. But now anyone walking on the meadow will see to the south four large blocks of five to six storeys under constructionIt is scandalous. Oxford University ought to be ashamed of itself.”