120-122 High Street Oxford Oxfordshire OX1 4BX
10 April 2018
Alterations to buildings including provision of glazed shopfront to 120, and new entrance to Alfred Street frontage of 121-122, Provision of lift/flue housing to rear. Rearrangement of ventilation and ducting to the rear. Change of use of ground floor, basement and mezzanine level from bank (A2) to restaurant (A3), and use of upper floors as four apartments (1 x 1-bed, 3 x 3-beds) (C3).
120 & 121-122 High St were built in 1866, in the Victorian Gothic style, by the respected architects F & H Francis, 120 as a music warehouse and 121-122 as a bank. 120 had a shopfront window which was removed and replaced by 3 pairs of cusped lancet windows, matching those of the bank, when the bank expanded into 120 in 1953.
The proposal, now that Nat West have vacated the property, is that the 2 properties should be converted into a restaurant. To allow more light into the restaurant, to open it up to the street, to provide DDA-compliant access, and to reduce the buildings’ slightly austere bank-like appearance, it is proposed to restore the shopfront window in a Victorian in style. Evidently a lot of thought has been given by the architects & planners to design of the window but we believe a window more like that of the nearby Jack Wills shop would be more suitable. We are not sure why it is proposed that the new shopfront window has an awning. It is not needed for shade, as the window faces north and the pavement is too busy and not wide enough for tables and chairs. It would be an unfortunate magnet for smokers in rainy weather.
The buildings are not only Grade II listed themselves but are in the historic centre of Oxford. We understand that the buildings may be taken over by the Ivy Group of restaurants. It is important that signage should be discreet and reflect the character of the area.
We have some other comments:
Transport Plan. It is regrettable the there is no transport plan. There is no car parking & no bicycle parking for staff or customers. Customers will be dependent on public car parking & sustainable transport. It might be possible to increase bicycle parking further than that proposed by having 2 banks of 2 tier cycle racks, instead of just 1. There is a general shortage of bicycle parking in the area as it is. Consideration should be given to providing more bicycle stands off High St & especially in the proposed remodelling of King Edward St.
Waste & recycling storage facilities. The plans show where waste & recycling are to be stored in the building but it is not clear where it will be left for collection. It would be unsatisfactory if bins had to be left out for collection in High St or Alfred St.
Residential accommodation. We welcome the inclusion of 4 residential flats above the restaurant. Amenity space is compromised but many residents would think this a small price to pay for accommodation in the centre of Oxford