Oxford Business Centre Osney Lane Oxford Oxfordshire OX1 1TB

24 December 2016

Demolition of units 1-15 Oxford Business Centre and redevelopment including erection of purpose built student accommodation with small-scale A1, A3, A4 and B1 units, with associated landscaping. 

In our previous letter, we stated that Oxford Civic Society regarded this application as premature because of the need to relate it to the new version of the Oxpens Masterplan SPD, which, we understand, is shortly to be produced. Having examined this application in more detail, we are now satisfied that the applicant has made a great effort to relate the east frontage of the development to the extension of Beckett Street which is expected to serve that side of the building. This is an imaginative and attractive approach to creating an active frontage which will potentially benefit the public.

However, the applicant’s buildings are to be built right up to the boundary of the applicant’s land ownership, and (as they acknowledge) their development will not include the road/footway/cycle tracks they show, or the trees and planting which are outside their site. For their building design really to work, therefore, the future development of all these features will have to be carried out by other developers.  It is therefore vital that this is taken fully into account in the new Masterplan being produced.

Since the City Council and Nuffield College are understood to own the land in the vicinity of the applicant’s proposal, it should be possible to achieve a successful outcome, with the proposed building and urban design of the adjacent area well integrated. We urge the planning officers to recognise that the success of this larger development, next to the applicant’s site, is dependent upon their taking fully into account the relationship between the applicant’s building and the area beyond which will be developed later.

Lastly, we commend the proposal to vary the facades by adopting three different and distinctive design types as well as varying the height of the constituent buildings.