Former Rose Hill Community Centre The Oval Oxford Oxfordshire OX4 4UY

4 December 2018

Erection of two three storey residential buildings comprising 25no. residential dwellings (Use Class C3) with associated access, parking and landscape arrangements. 

Oxford Civic Society consider this proposal to be flawed and lacking in imagination in a number of respects regarding the design. It is unclear how the application fits within the framework of an explicit urban design and spatial regeneration strategy for the area. Thus, whilst we recognise the dimensional limitations of the site, some of the relationships between private amenity space and the public realm do not appear to be robust. It is also unclear why such a high level of parking provision should be considered desirable at this location.

The high, steeply-pitched roofs make the buildings much more prominent than the three storeys of accommodation necessitate and result in considerable wasted volume in unused ‘attic’ space, as well as having consequences for shading of the surroundings. The distribution of external amenity space is illogical, with some of the smallest apartments provided with space equal to 80% of the internal floor area, whilst others have little more than a small, in some cases irregularly-shaped balcony; ‘thrust’ balconies (i.e. projecting cantilevers) are in every case too small to be of practicable use, and are thus fated to be used for nothing but informal storage, detracting from the street scene. The argument that these balconies present a more secure solution than alternatives is implausible, and the balconies do not form an impression of a properly integrated design solution. The amenity spaces provided for ground floor apartments lack privacy, and the space is severely diminished by the co-location of bike and bin storage. Bicycle storage is inadequate, particularly for visitors.

The planning of the dwelling types is generally satisfactory, however, the suitability of four person family dwellings with only one living space (living/dining/kitchen) must be questioned.

This proposal is a wasted opportunity to provide imaginatively designed and much needed housing fit for the 21st century city; we would urge refusal on the grounds of poor design and failure to make best use of the site.