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Swift Tower project progresses

In August the RSPB applied for planning permission for the proposed Swift Tower in the University Parks – a project the University has been closely involved with through teams including University Parks and Environmental Sustainability.

Last year a member of the public, Jonathan Wheeler, won a competition to design the tower, which will provide much-needed nesting sites for this beloved but badly threatened species. The tower is part of the RSPB’s two-year Oxford Swift City project, which aims to make Oxford a more welcoming place for the iconic migratory birds. The University is a key partner in the project, working alongside other institutions such as local wildlife groups and the City and County Councils. The documents associated with the application, including feedback from local residents, can be seen at the City Council’s planning website.

Work starts on next phase of Botnar Research Centre

Preparatory work has started ahead of the construction of the third phase of the Botnar Research Centre, on the site of the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre. Completion is scheduled for March 2020; an existing electricity substation is currently being moved before groundworks can start.

The project is funded and will be managed by Nuffield Orthopaedics Limited (NOL), a charity that raises money to finance new medical care and research facilities in Oxford and that built both the original Botnar Centre in 2002 and its first major extension in 2013. The site is on land owned by the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; when construction is finished, the University will lease the building from NOL, which will in turn hold the head-lease from the Trust. The Institute of Musculoskeletal Sciences, a multi-disciplinary research centre that is managed by the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS), is based in the Botnar and will also take possession of its extension.

University in talks on Eynsham cycle path

The University is in discussions with Oxfordshire County Council over the possibility of using some of its land to create a new public cycle path along the B4044 from Botley to Eynsham via the toll bridge at Swinford. The path would benefit the general public as well as University employees, making it safer and more pleasant to approach Oxford from the west by bike.

The University broadly supports the scheme, and members of the Estates Legal Services, Environmental Sustainability and Asset & Space Management teams are in discussion with the Council over how a legal agreement might be structured to allow a strip of land alongside the road to be used for the bike path. This would include farmland as well as small parts of Wytham Woods and the land around the Hill End outdoor education centre.

Wytham Woods team preparing major fundraising effort

Fundraising for the Wytham Fund will begin shortly, with a target of bringing in £100,000 of donations to support long-term research in the Woods. The money will help keep baseline monitoring going on any of the long-term programmes that are based at Wytham even if there is a period of scarce funding, avoiding gaps in the datasets they produce and hence maintaining their full scientific value. The team will be sending letters to permit holders and other friends of the woods to ask for donations. If you are interested in supporting the Woods, please contact The team also held a workshop later in October for scientists and other practitioners, addressing long-term data-collection and the challenges of maintaining it in lean times.

Ashmolean revolving door to be replaced

Ashmolean Front Entrance

The Conservation & Buildings team are due to replace the revolving door at the main entrance to the Ashmolean Museum over the winter, with the aim of making it easier to use and cheaper to maintain. The existing door is enormous, standing around 4.5 metres high. This makes it extremely heavy, so visitors need power assistance to move it. But the door’s location above the museum’s café means there is very limited space for an electric motor. Accordingly a bespoke motor was installed, which is unreliable and expensive to repair.

The team plan to replace the entire revolving door and the two smaller doors next to it. The new revolving door will be smaller, around 2.5 metres high, and the reduced weight will mean no power assistance is needed. The project will also improve accessibility for disabled visitors.

During the project the museum’s Egypt gallery will be used as a temporary entrance to the museum, providing convenient, wheelchair-friendly access from the forecourt rather than forcing visitors to go round to the entrance on St Giles’.

The team have worked closely with museum staff to fit in with its exhibition schedule - the project will start in mid-November and is expected to take eight weeks. The new doors should be open to the public by the week commencing 28 January, ahead of the start of a major exhibition in February.

Sign up for Project Board training

The last training session of the year for members of Project Boards (previously known as Project Sponsor Groups) is scheduled for Thursday 22 November. It will run from 10.00am to 11.30am at the Malthouse in Tidmarsh Lane. Space is limited so please contact if you would like to attend. BESC requires all Project Board members to attend one of these training sessions.

Central Production Kitchen prepares for launchMuffins Compass

Catering contractor Compass has begun works to set up the Central Production Kitchen in Osney Mead. This is expected to launch in early January and will provide a central facility for producing food that can then be distributed to cafes and other outlets all over the University. This is expected to increase the quality and variety of food that Compass can provide to departments and other customers.

City Council consults on proposed Community Infrastructure Levy rises

Oxford City Council is conducting a consultation exercise on proposals to review the rates property owners must pay under the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The University is preparing its own response, since the proposed increase would have a significant impact on its plans to develop student housing, but colleges may also wish to take part in their own right – if so, responses must be submitted by 30 October.

The review could end up increasing rates significantly – the proposed new rates are at least double those that have been in place since 2013, although the latter have risen in line with inflation since being introduced. The rates are in addition to affordable housing contributions.

Book your place at the next FM Forum

FM forum

The next FM Forum is due to meet on 2 November at the Examination Schools, giving building and facilities managers across the University estate a chance to meet, network, share best practice and discuss common challenges. In addition, guest speakers talk on a variety of topics to ensure FMs around the University have up-to-date information. If you are interested in attending, email 

University moving to new planned maintenance standard

The DLO has adopted the SFG20 standard for planned preventative maintenance (PPM). This will mean PPM is carried out to a higher and more consistent standard, with the goal of making building systems run more efficiently and reliably.

The team is in the process of introducing PPM plans for 100 of the University’s most maintenance-intensive buildings. Regular PPM reduces costs as it ensures parts are replaced before they fail, avoiding the need for costly emergency repairs. It also improves the lifespan of many parts and enables systems to run more efficiently – for example, air conditioning systems work better and use less energy if their filters are regularly changed. The plans will mean PPM on these buildings is carried out far more consistently and reliably, as the Planon database will automatically generate the necessary jobs and assign them to the appropriate operative. More than half the plans are in place and the rest are expected to be rolled out by spring 2019. They are now being drawn up to comply with the SFG20 standard.

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