30 October 2014

University submits Castle Mill Environmental Statement

The University submitted its Environmental Statement on the graduate accommodation at Castle Mill to Oxford City Council on 30 October 2014. This is to be followed by a seven-week period of public consultation (closing on 19 December) to allow everyone in the city to consider all the issues the report raises.

The University continues to believe that the benefits the development has brought to student accommodation and the Oxford housing market remain of prime importance when considering its impact.

The Castle Mill flats have enabled the University to provide much-needed homes for more than 300 students, helping to relieve pressure on the city’s over-stretched housing stock and to meet the city council’s limit on the number of students in rental accommodation.

At the same time the University has continued to seek ways to mitigate the visual impact of the accommodation when viewed from Port Meadow. This is one of the issues addressed in the voluntary Environmental Statement (ES) prepared by independent consultants on behalf of the University, which has now been presented to the city council for consideration.

In line with option one identified in the Environmental Statement, the University is proposing additional measures to adapt the landscaping and the cladding of the new buildings to blend them in better with the surrounding area. We will plant more trees on the western boundary of the site, and we will soften the colour and textures of the buildings.We believe this approach represents the best option to balance the environmental sensitivities with financial responsibility and the need to relieve pressure on the Oxford housing market.

The University welcomes the conclusion of the report that in considering the improvements proposed, the socio-economic advantages of the development should outweigh other factors.

The University is a charity and believes proposals to alter the height of the buildings or the structure of the roofs would require large and unacceptable expenditure of its funding.

The University will be consulting fully on its new proposals, which require a further application for planning permission to be made. The consultation process on this application will follow the recommendations on planning applications made in the Goodstadt report last year, which the University is already implementing.

View an artist’s impression of how the development would look if option one was carried out.