The Harlow Centre Raymund Road Oxford Oxfordshire OX3 0PG

16 June 2018

 Demolition of existing buildings on the site and their replacement with a new two-storey education facility, associated parking and external play areas for Meadow Brook College. Erection of a new secondary school in the form mix of one and three-storey buildings together with provision of a new access from Marston Ferry Road, associated car and cycle parking along with formal and informal play and sport provision. Erection of a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) and Eco- Shelter for St Nicholas Primary School(Amended description)

Oxford Civic Society shares the well-argued objections to this scheme already expressed by others. This application should be rejected.

The application fails to address the rationale for the chosen location of this project in relation to the geographical need for school places.  The proposal smacks of trying to fit a quart into a pint pot; the site selection looks to be based on expediency, i.e. ready availability of the site, and an opportunity to improve the Meadowbrook Centre, rather than a rational process based on catchment areas and intensity of need.  The site is far too too small for a school of the size proposed: this is a clear example of over-development which will have deleterious effects on the running of the school and the behaviour and well-being of students.

The arguments for management of traffic, particularly cycles, are implausible, and the projections of traffic volumes do not take account of the existing flows of both cars and cycles on Marston Ferry Road – neither the volumes, nor the make-up of the cycling contingent, i.e. largely unsupervised children.

Motor vehicle congestion is already severe at peak times, and the addition of 60-100 cars negotiating the proposed school access, the Marston Ferry/Banbury/Moreton Roads or the Cherwell Drive/Marsh Lane junctions will seriously exacerbate the current problems. Levels of pollution will rise and the effects on neighbouring communities will be harmful.

Future developments at Ewart House/Diamond Place and the Summertown Strategic Site are likely to increase further the current traffic volumes.

Compromising the Marston Ferry Road cycle track (probably the only really satisfactory, purpose-designed segregated cycle route in Oxford), by diverting it and introducing the school access, which will clearly be heavily used at just the times when cycle flows are greatest, flies in the face of City Council policy for the encouragement of cycling, and undermines the objectives of the County Council ‘Access to Headington’ project, currently being implemented.

As regards the detailing of the building, we are concerned at the inappropriate application of timber cladding in that the robustness and fire-resistance, in the context of a school, are unacceptable and the appearance after weathering will be unattractive