Manor Place Dismissed on Appeal

Planning Inspector upholds refusal of permission

7 December 2017

Merton College and developers McLaren first put in a planning application to build 286 student rooms at Manor Place in Holywell in June 2015. The application was turned down by Oxford City Council. Merton/McLaren appealed; hearings were held in the summer and autumn of 2017 and the Inspector gave his decision to dismiss the appeal on 4 December 2017. Read the full Appeal Decision here.

Holywell Cemetery
Holywell Cemetery

Oxford Civic Society has consistently opposed this development. These are the earlier articles we published:

We and the other objectors said that the scheme was inappropriate for the site, especially because it was too tall. Manor Place is in a sensitive part of the Central Conservation Area. The buildings would have adversely affected the tranquillity and isolation of Holywell Cemetery and spoiled views from Magdalen Deer Park and St Catherine’s College.

Equally importantly it did nothing to meet Oxford’s real need, which is for purpose built housing for graduate students and early-career researchers. The site is badly situated for Oxford Brookes undergraduates and Brookes confirmed they had no interest in the site. It was a speculative commercial development with no clear purpose.

Holywell Cemetery boundary wall
Holywell Cemetery boundary wall

On the other hand the site is allocated for student accommodation and/or car-free residential development in the City’s Sites and Housing Plan. It is perfectly suitable for a development of graduate student housing at an appropriate scale. Perhaps even better, given its closeness to the river and parks, a car-free residential development for post-doctoral students and early career academics with families would be ideal. If developed at all it should be for these purposes on behalf of Oxford University and, unlike the rejected scheme, should not be a speculative development with no tie to the University.

We hope that everyone involved, especially Merton College, will now collaborate with the other Colleges and the University to promote a suitable proposal which meets this need and respects the characteristics of the neighbourhood.