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To join the Save Port Meadow Campaign and to receive updated news,

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ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN

The Save Port Meadow campaign is a community campaign, which  got going in Dec 2012 in response to the University of Oxford’s Port Meadow flats development, on Roger Dudman Way by the allotments. There is a core group of individuals from across Oxford running the campaign, with the help of several volunteers.

The Campaign group has partnered with The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (Oxfordshire) they have the experience to take on legal challenges to misguided planning processes such as this one, and as a registered charity, they receive and manage all donations directly.
The Campaign is sympathetic to the extreme housing pressures in Oxford, and not against housing and accommodation development in the City. But there has to be a balance between finding the answers to that, and protecting Oxford’s unique and special heritage, to which Port Meadow is central. Both University and City Council have failed here. The Port Meadow flats are simply a grotesque mistake, they should not have been put there. Everyone knows it.
The Campaign has had widespread support so far. Several thousand people signed our initial petition (now closed). Several hundred have signed up to get regular updates, and have got involved, attended meetings, given money, taken action and volunteered time. Many members of the University included.

 

18 thoughts on “About

  1. Do you know that they are planning

    YET ANOTHER STUDENT BLOCK!

    at the south end of Fiddler’s Island.

    You have until 17 October to comment on the proposal. You can comment on the council website (and see all the details and what others have said) at

    http://public.oxford.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=MSWH3VMFQ9000

    Or write to Murray Hancock, Planning Dept., City Council, St Aldate’s Chambers, St Aldate’s,
    OX1 1DS with reference: 13/02350/FUL 3 ROGER DUDMAN WAY

    Why you should object:

    1. we have had enough of these student blocks on unspoilt land
    2. it ‘s not only this development , but the further development it will encourage – “we’ve built over that bit, so it doesn’t matter if we spoil the adjoining bit”. Where will it end?
    3. this development isn’t even being done by the University, who’ve already built what they need – but by a private speculator. This is driven by profit, not need.
    4. this would change the character of that part of the Island and the Thames Path. The building will be nearer the stream than the existing blocks, and directly overlook it.
    5. the applicant admits there will be more light pollution and noise
    6. the leafy character of the place will be changed, with some trees coming down and a new, larger footbridge onto the Island itself. The developer’s attitude can be judged from his description of the site as ‘heavily vegetated and overgrown’. Or ‘Nature’, to you and me!
    7. he admits ‘the majority of the site is within a Zone 3 area [high flood risk] and therefore likely to be affected by flooding’ but claims the building ‘appears’ (!) to be in Zone 2 (medium risk). It accepts that special measures such as waterproofing the walls are needed. Given uncertainties about future flooding, why are we even considering building there?
    8. he notes that contamination with hydrocarbons, metals and asbestos ‘may be a cause for concern to human health, the water environment [i.e. the Thames!] and water supply pipes’. But only a desk study has been done which ‘can only indicate the potential for contamination’. Yet it is not proposed to do a proper investigation until AFTER planning consent is given!

    We were too late to stop the Port Meadow Barracks. Please help stop this one!

    As well as responding to the application, it is worth emailing your councillors
    spressel@oxford.gov.uk and colin.cook@medsci.ox.ac.uk

  2. If you are upset about the Port Meadow Barracks, you might want to object to a proposal for yet ANOTHER student block, this time at the south end of Fiddler’s Island (this application has been withdrawn once but re-submitted, presumably hoping we won’t notice it!).

    You have until 17 October to comment.

    You can comment on the council website (and view all relevant documents and see what others have said) at

    http://public.oxford.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=MSWH3VMFQ9000

    Or write to Murray Hancock, Planning Dept., City Council, St Aldate’s Chambers, St Aldate’s, OX1 1DS with reference:
    13/02350/FUL 3 ROGER DUDMAN WAY

    The applicant claims to have taken account of previous comments: but what does that amount to? Reducing the foot print by a few % and putting a bit of wood here and there on the cladding! The substance for objections remains utterly unchanged:

    1. we have had enough , and more than enough, of these student blocks on unspoilt land
    2. it is not only this development in itself, but continuing creeping urbanisation of green land. One development happens and this is then prayed in aid of further adjacent development – “we’ve spoilt that bit, so it doesn’t matter if we spoil the adjoining bit”. That is exactly what has happened here. If this is allowed, there will be further development to the south of the site and then where – the fields opposite?
    3. this development isn’t even being done by the University – but by a speculator who bought this land years ago, presumably in the hope that over time it’d become sufficiently built over to allow development. This is driven by profit, not need.
    4. if allowed this will permanently change the character of that part of the Island and thus the Thames Path, which remains a wonderfully rural area so close to the City centre. The building will be nearer the stream than the existing blocks, and directly overlook it.
    5. the application admits there will be an increase in light pollution and noise – while claiming this doesn’t matter as the railway is noisy!
    6. the leafy character of the place will be changed, with some trees coming down and a new, seemingly larger footbridge onto the Island itself. The attitude of the developer can be judged from the description of the site as ‘heavily vegetated and overgrown’ with ‘unkempt vegetation…a few trees…stones’. Or ‘Nature’, to you and me!
    7. it is admitted ‘the majority of the site is within a Zone 3 area [high risk] and therefore likely to be affected by flooding’ but claimed that the area of the building ‘appears’ (!) to be in Zone 2 (medium risk). It is accepted that student accommodation is classed as ‘more vulnerable’ to flooding and that special measures such as waterproofing the walls and placing electrics at waste higher may be needed. Given the uncertainties about the future trend in flooding, which all of us near the river face, why are we even considering building in a place with such risk?
    8. given the history of undeclared contamination on the Barracks site, the application seems nonchalant about ground contamination. It notes that previous industrial use means that contamination with (among other dangerous substances) hydrocarbons, metals and asbestos ‘may be a cause for concern to human health, the water environment [i.e. the Thames!] and water supply pipes’. But only a desk study has been done which it is accepted ‘can only indicate the potential for contamination’ (my emphasis). That risk is assessed on this basis as ‘moderate’. Yet it is not proposed to do a proper investigation until AFTER planning consent is given!

    We were too late to stop the Barracks. Please help stop this one!

    As well as responding to the application as above, consider emailing your councillors, some of whom are ashamed by the Barracks disaster and might want to avoid another row

  3. Further to my post, Council now say they will take comments up to 25 April – they don’t seem very clued up on their own timetable!

  4. This is morally wrong on many grounds; the first major one being environmental and preserving wildllife. I cannot believe that people would want to do this to their beautiful and unique environment.

  5. If you bitterly regret not registering opposition to the Port Meadow Barracks at planning stage, as I do, then you should know that the Council is just about to do exactly the same thing again, with MORE student flats right bang alongside Fiddler’s Island, which if allowed will permanently change the character of the place.

    The council did nothing to warn even near neighbours of the application – so as with the Barracks very few people knew what was afoot. On line comments are now out of time. The Council are poised to approve the thing next week!

    This means that

    YOU HAVE ONLY UNTIL SATURDAY 20 APRIL TO COMMENT DIRECT TO

    mhancock@oxford.gov.uk

    or by hand 109 St Aldate’s Chambers, St Aldate’s,Oxford,OX1 1DS

    mark it ref 13/00636/FUL Roger Dudman Way

    The development is for yet MORE student flats, this time by a private developer, for profit (one of the many reasons for regretting the Barracks was that it invited every speculator to do likewise). (The company is appropriately known as ‘Asset Max’).

    See the proposals here:

    http://public.oxford.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=MJNLLTMFQ9000

    Apart from the fact that we might think the Barracks, along with those previously built near Fiddler’s Island to the South, provide enough flats to be getting on with – many hundreds in all – this new development is objectionable on the following grounds:

    1. it breaks new ground (literally!) in being the first building to actually front onto Fiddler’s Island – the existing flats on Roger Dudman Way are some distance back and angled away from it, these ones are facing it and right up against it. As we have seen, where one development breaks new ground, others follow – money follows money! This stretch of the Thames, countryside until a few years ago – with a gray heron and woodpeckers to be seen – is now to be thoroughly urbanised and dominated by large buildings

    2. the development intrudes further onto Fiddler’s Island itself, since the footbridge is made permanent and moved further south towards the wet area at the extreme south of the island which has til recently been a minature unofficial wildlife preserve, allowed to flood and flower as it will The mind set of speculators is summed up in their description of this as ‘mostly empty and composed of shingle stones, a few trees and riverside flora which is unruly and unkempt’. That is of course what you and I call ‘nature’ – but merely empty and unruly to those who see money in concreting over it. Trees will of course have to be felled

    3. householders should note that ‘noise levels will inevitably rise’: students of course noted for their quietness at night. Light pollution will increase onto the river and Fiddlers Island.

    4. incredibly, in view of the rapid worsening of flooding in Oxford, year after year, the proposal is to place some of the development on land that is Floodrisk 2 (probability of flooding once in 100 years) and even 3 (more frequently than that). Only a small part it is true but with what we see happening to water levels, how can the council accept building on this area, which must mean that water would have to go elsewhere?)

    5. finally it is incredible that so soon after the Barracks debacle, when many complained that the proposals were inadequately publicised at planning stage, the proposal has not even notified nearby properties, in Abbey and Cripley roads, that will be affected.

    I urge you to resist this development. It is unnecessary, excessive, intrusive.

    And to demand an extension to the consultation process

  6. I have been concerned that the Planning Committee may have been deliberately mislead, as following the Worlledge report the University withdrew their initial application, reduced the height of these abominal buildings by 4 feet and then resubmitted their application to which the Worlledge report had ‘no relevance’ and did not need to be shown to Councillors on the Planning Committee. This suggests the University had some inside knowledge of how to achieve their goal. Who would give them such help? And why?

  7. Extraordinary reply from the Council leader, Bob Price, here:

    http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/opinions/letters/10337381.Nothing_hidden_on_meadow_flats/

    in effect: we were right; what you think is unimportant; the view is unimportant; we will do the same again, often.

    I dont know which is more scary about Price: his appalling arrogance – Oxford is my fief, sod anyone who opposes me – or his complete lack of feeling for natural beauty. What I do know is that it is high time he went.

    • Apologies, it is not Price but John Tanner – councillor ‘for a greener Oxford’, what bad joke that is – like Price a member of the Labour clique who did this to us all, who refuse to remedy it, apologise or even admit their error

      • Tanner seems to acknowledge the ugliness of the new buildings by saying that the council will support measures to hide them e.g. with trees. If the public had been properly informed about their finished appearence, serious protests would have arisen and the plans would have been duly modified. The problem lies not with the existence of new buildings but with their hideousness.

  8. Dear Sir,

    I write to share my utter dismay over the unwelcome gift that the University of Oxford, with support from the city council planning department, has foisted upon us. The University should be the architectural and aesthetic guardians of the city but now they have revealed their side preoccupied by a greed borne of an insatiable desire to expand.

    The case against this ghastly development by the University on Roger Dudman Way could not be clearer.
    1) It is of course an architectural abomination completely out of context and also downright ugly and shabby.
    2) The buildings are at least 2 storeys higher than all the new build houses around and so blight the skyline. Senior planning officials please take a look in person from Port Meadow at the extremely obvious as I know you can’t see this from the planning documents showing the view cone from Wolvercote.
    3) It completely corrupts the view of Port Meadow.

    As if this was not enough, what is far worse is the subterfuge the University is using to deny wrong doing and deflect a strong line of enquiry by the campaign that exposes the weaknesses in the whole planning process. The buildings are too high that is clear for all to see, yet the councillors cling to the pathetic and misleading line of mitigation measures. There is neither permission nor room to plant trees in front. It’s a red herring they are using to deflect attention. “Let the public reserve judgement till the buildings are complete” said the University in response to the early days of the campaign. For this read “once the building are up planning permission can’t be revoked and will be a fait accompli”. They are all playing for time and hoping to get away with this crime against the Oxford landscape.

    So what could happen next?
    1) Planning permission is revoked at the town hall on 7th Feb
    2) The most senior city planning officials, incompetent or corrupted or both are held to account.

    Enough is enough. We must stop this trail of vandalism by the University before the city is turned into some Stalinist University theme park in the name of keeping Oxford University as one of the top ten universities in the world. We must also stop the cronyism fuelled by conflict of interest of key councillors and seeming professional incompetence by senior planning officials in the city.

    Yours respectfully

    Alfred Lewis

  9. I was suspicious when they started these buildings but my suspicions have now turned to horror as they have removed the scaffolding from the first building and revealed how they will all look when finished: ugly grey sheds, roofed with metal sheet, sticking up above the tree line and ruining the view of Oxford from Port Meadow. I never saw any announcement of the proposed development and fully support the claim of other parties that proper consultation was minimal. Oxford University, supposed to be a bastion against philistinism, has now been shown to be guilty of egregious cultural vandalism. Peter Brandt

  10. Dynamite would seem an appropriate tool. Not that I would advocate we, the protestors should use it, but perhaps the University and the planners might want to in order to bury their shame!

  11. I’d like to donate too. I feel part of my heritage has been vandalised by greed and arrogance on the part of the University and sheer incompetence on the part of the City Council. They must be brought to book.

  12. I have examined, on-line, the drawings submitted with the application. As a civil engineer I had no doubt that they were misleading even to someone used to reading such drawings. The plan was presented in a “cut in half” thus failing to demonstrate clearly just how long the line of eight building was to be and ,at least, implying that the length was to be half of the actual. Further none of the elevations, as far as I could see, were from Port Meadow. I am told that the ground has been built up above the original to take the site above the flood plain. I do recall an mention of that in the documentation.

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