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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Oxford’s historic skyline will “absolutely not” be damaged, despite “high rise” plans

Reports of taller buildings plans dismissed as “headline fantasy” by Councillor Alex Hollingsworth

Theo Davies-Lewis
Theo Davies-Lewis
Theo is a first-year undergraduate at St. Hugh's College. He was Broadcast Editor in HT17, and is now News Editor in TT17. He has had experience working with News UK, ITV, and the BBC. Feel free to contact Theo via email: [email protected]

Oxford’s historic college and university buildings will “absolutely not” be damaged despite new plans for “taller” and “continental-style” developments in Oxford, according to Councillor Alex Hollingsworth.

Councillor Hollingsworth, who is reponsible for Planning and Regulatory Services on the City Council, dimissed the “headline fantasy” of The Oxford Mail, who reported that “high-rise” buildings were set to be erected across the city.

New options from the Local Plan, viewed as the blueprint for new building developments, will be consulted upon during the summer.

Draft proposals by the City Council would “end blanket height restrictions” and “favour developments that use space most efficiently”, according to The Oxford Mail.

These changes are thought to be inspired by how other European cities such as Barcelona are planned and organised, and could help deliver 10,000 new homes over the next two decades.

Speaking to Cherwell, Councillor Hollingsworth said: “There’s no high-rise: that’s The Oxford Mail headline writer and not what the report has said.

“There’s a long standing rule in Oxford that buildings cannot be above a certain height limit. The issue with that is that there’s a lot of low buildings, and what we’re talking about is not tower blocks or twenty or thirty storey buildings—nothing absurd like that.”

Councillor Hollingsworth admitted that there would be “five, six, seven story buildings”, but these would be would be seen outside the city centre, in areas like Summertown, Headington, Cowley, Blackbird Leys and Littlemore, which are referred to as “district centres”.

He added: “What we’re doing is meeting a need for housing in Oxford which is huge, and one of the indicators of that is that it’s one of the most expensive cities to live in across the UK”.

Nevertheless, in the suburbs where the developments would be concentrated, there would be denser buildings—meaning that there could be flats or apartments above shops, while there would be community centres and transport hubs on the ground level. This form of structure is common in European cities such as Vienna and Berlin.

According to Councillor Hollingsworth, the response from the University has been “pretty positive” so far, with the University of Oxford “thoroughly engaged” in discussions about the future of the city’s building developments.

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