17/01859/FUL

152 Cowley Road Oxford Oxfordshire OX4 1JJ

12 September 2017

Change of use of ground floor from storage (Use Class B8) to retail (Use Class A1), and first floor from office (Use Class B1(a)) to form 2 x 2-bed maisonettes over first and second floor (Use Class C3). Provision of access and bin store at ground floor level and balcony at first floor level. Formation of 2No. dormer windows to rear roof slope and 2No. dormer windows to front roof slope in association with loft conversion.

The planning application confusingly refers to 152 Cowley Road but the block plan makes it clear that the application is for 152a which fronts Crown St. The CAD drawing of the original building inaccurately shows semi-circular round headed windows on the first floor, rather than the segmental arched windows the building has. The maisonettes are described as ‘2-bed’ but each has just 1 bedroom. There is a flat roof at the front of the building but this cannot be described as a balcony as there is no access. The existing building is of little quality and in poor repair. The building is on an important site between the shops of Cowley Road and the attractive Victorian terraces of Crown St.

The proposed conversion to two maisonettes over ground floor retail would be over development. The upper floors on the maisonettes require two very large ugly box dormers, running the whole length of the roof, with only a very small gap between them. No information is given about what this large structure would overlook. The maisonettes have no amenity space. The development would be car free as there is no parking for cars. The cycle parking and bin storage is compromised. The limited space available requires the bicycles to be hung from their front wheels. The outer bike would have to be taken down to gain access to the inner bike. Both bikes would have to be taken down to get access to the bins.

The building could be converted to a single flat over retail or to two maisonettes. A better solution might be to pull down the existing building and replace it with a well-designed new building which respected the character of the area.