Former Public Conveniences Gents St Giles' Oxford OX1 3JS

22 August 2018

  Change of use to short let accommodation (Use Class C1). Erection of 2no. glass canopies over the existing stair wells, restoration of the existing railings to create 2 x 1-bed suites.

Oxford Civic Society considers that the above ground extension for this engaging (though controversial) proposal for re-using an existing built resource, does not demonstrate an appropriate design quality for its setting.

Whilst not underestimating the design challenge, Oxford Civic Society believe that the proposal lacks qualities which would enhance this centrally important part of Oxford’s historic streetscape, but rather presents, as others have noted, two undistinguished and inappropriate ‘shed-like’ structures to give private, protected access to the short-term accommodation invisible below street level.

Whilst this complex setting and the much smaller scale of intervention could not support as emphatic a structure as I.M. Pei’s Louvre pyramid, Oxford Civic Society believe that a more appropriate exemplar of design excellence could be achieved to add to the lively qualities of this important and popular part of the City.