The issues raised by members of our local community in the first phase of engagement in November to December 2020 have informed our latest plans. We have examined every comment and suggestion and where possible we have adapted our further plans to accommodate this feedback. These community-driven changes identified include:
Can you limit the impact on views across the site, locally and from the city centre?
- Redesigned our originally proposed Building 4 into two smaller and separate buildings, in order to create more space and light in this area of the site’s landscape. This will also protect two additional category A trees and one category B tree.
- Redesigned our original plan to include a new three-storey welcome pavilion, to provide a focal point for entry into the site.
- Reduced heights across many of the residential buildings, generally keeping them below 18m, with three six-storey buildings and the remainder now having lower numbers of storeys.
- Designed low-rise townhouses at the upper level of the site to limit the height and massing of these buildings and to respond positively to the local topography. These townhouses will also provide accommodation for continuing students, mirroring the feeling of a house of multiple occupation and increasing the desirability of accommodation on University land.
- Used specialist software to re-assess any impact on long-range views across the landscape towards the city centre and the surrounding hills by residents and allotment-holders. This will continue to provide us with rigorous and accurate evidence on any likely impact to views.
Can you ensure that there is limited removal of trees and habitats and respect for the nature and wildlife that already exists on this site?
- Adjusted the positioning of several proposed buildings to allow for more daylight, to mitigate against increased intrusion from buildings, and to protect trees and habitats.
- Undertaken more detailed analysis on tree preservation and of natural habitats.
- Identified opportunities to make better use of rainwater through potential enlarging of the onsite pond and thus improving the biodiversity habitat in this area.
- Begun exploring re-use of rain water supply to the neighbouring allotments. The design of the buildings are also being re-examined to assess the possibility of an integrated rainwater attenuation system to manage the flow of storm water from the site.
- Made changes which we believe will allow us to retain additional existing trees, with a particular focus on the Category A and B higher quality trees with life expectancy of 20-40 years or more. We will continue to develop this area of work.
Can you reduce the impact of any new buildings on neighbouring land, including local allotments?
- Reloaded and re-shaped the proposed Building 5 in order to create more space between the site and the John Garne Way allotments which will cast no additional shadow beyond that currently cast by the existing Morals building.
- Moved the north end of the proposed Building 3 to help to reduce further shadowing to allotments, with more analysis being undertaken to make additional improvements.
- Moved proposed Buildings 10 and 12 to create more boundary space between the site and the Pullen’s Field residences to reduce any possibility of overlooking or overshadowing.
- Begun to undertake detailed shadow studies of the site including assessing the impact on the allotments at different times of the year.
Can you address any potential increase in traffic to the site and the use of cars by students?
- Undertaken a further study of the number of car parking spaces on the site and explored ways of reducing visits by private vehicles. This is in addition to the existing policy of students within halls of residence not being allowed to bring a car to the city.
- Begun exploring suggestions to provide more dedicated drop-off spaces for delivery vehicles so that there is less traffic both across the site and along John Garne Way.
Can you improve opportunities for cyclists?
- Engaged the views of Cyclox, the local group representing cycling interests in Oxford, to identify the needs for cyclists and cycle routes. This feedback is being built into the updated designs.
- Designed as many of the cycle parking spaces as possible to be indoor spaces integrated within buildings to provide safe, dry and secure bicycle parking with tool stations and charging points for e-bikes and scooters.
- Interfaced with Oxford County Council to ensure that their emerging plans for local cycle route improvements are integrated within our designs.
Can we ensure that the nursery is carefully orientated away from neighbours?
- Adapted the proposed new building for the nursery so that this has an enclosed courtyard which protects the play areas from overlooking and ensures the privacy of the staff and children.
Can we ensure that any new buildings respect the need for carbon reduction and environmental impact?
- Instructed our planning advisers to ensure that we at least meet our carbon reduction and other environmental targets associated with the buildings and construction process and exceed this wherever possible.
- Ensured we are taking a “fabric first” approach, ensuring that the building envelopes have high levels of non-combustible insulation and suitable air tightness, with a heat recovery mechanical air supply and extract system to ensure that the energy demands are low.
- Ensured the site will be all electric using air source heat pumps, with no gas supply, allowing it to function completely without fossil fuels.
- Ensured the buildings are being designed with careful consideration of the embodied carbon of the structures, meaning that robust materials are used efficiently to ensure the smallest possible environmental impact.
- Ensured the scheme has been undertaken only after full analysis of the existing buildings and the capacity to carry out a deep energy retrofit to bring them up to contemporary insulation and energy performance standards.
After carefully considering all of the feedback gained in November and December 2020, we have revised our initial plans which you can now see in more detail here [PDF].
We are now inviting questions and comments on the specific designs. These can be sent to us via our online form until Friday 5 February 2021, or through attendance at one of our webinars which you can register for on this webpage.