Changes to development plans welcomed

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Plans to reduce the height of the New Student Centre Building at the Gipsy Lane site have received a positive response.

Plans to lower the height of the New Student Centre Building for the Gipsy Lane site have been welcomed today.

This week, Brookes submitted a revised planning application to Oxford City Council that will see the height of the main building facing Headington Road reduced by more than three metres.

Crucially, the amount of space available for the new library has not been compromised with the creation of a £5m basement scheme.

The Oxford Mail, in an editorial, welcomed the move, saying:

“The concession offered up by Oxford Brookes University to appease a well-organised and concerted campaign against its expansion has been a welcome surprise.

"Brookes tabled what appears to be a concession to the campaigners — a redrawing of its original plans, which reduces the height of the centrepiece, a main building containing a library and teaching facilities, by one storey — or three metres.

"It will cost Brookes an extra £5m – but one campaign group has dismissed it as tinkering.

Brookes is a fantastic university with a fast-growing reputation, but it needs 21st century facilities to be able to compete. In short, it is either allowed to expand and compete, or it fades.

Compromise is the key for both sides here.”

Rex Knight, Brookes’ Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said:  “Good neighbours talk, and know there must be give and take. We have been talking about these proposals since 2005, we have listened and compromised.

“We will invest £132 million in this project, a much-needed economic boost, securing the jobs and economic benefits of the university for the next generation.

“Height is key, and the one issue that we have not been able to respond to up until now.

“We have focused the biggest reduction in height to the area closest to the residential properties. The library will now be lower than the two tallest buildings on the site — the Abercrombie and Sinclair buildings.

“Achieving this has meant an enormous amount of effort in order to meet the residents halfway. It is the best we can do. I think it is a reasonable compromise between our vision, the sustainability of the project, what we can afford and the views that have been expressed by residents.”

The revised application can be viewed on the Space to Think website.