Planning for adverse weather

Estates Services responsibilities

The University has plans in place setting out how we will respond to extreme bad weather at key sites. As a rule, key access routes will be gritted and snow cleared where practicable.

The areas that will be treated are indicated in the plans below for specific parts of the estate:

Begbroke Adverse Weather Plan (218kb)

Ewert House Adverse Weather Plan (185kb)

Iffley Road Sports Centre Adverse Weather Plan (259kb)

Keble Triangle Adverse Weather Plan (214kb)

ORC Adverse Weather Plan (203kb)

ROQ Adverse Weather Plan (221kb)

Science Area Adverse Weather Plan (274kb)

Summertown House Adverse Weather Plan (191kb)

Gritting is done overnight by external contractors. The decision on whether or not to grit on any given night is based on expected temperatures, recent and prevailing atmospheric conditions and a visual survey of the area in question by the gritting operatives once they get there.

Please be aware that gritting only works above a certain temperature; below this threshold it cannot prevent ice from forming. This means that in extremely cold weather, conditions underfoot will be icy and treacherous regardless of how much grit has been applied.

Snow clearance is carried out by Estates Services staff, alongside contractors.

Departmental responsibilities

Departments are responsible for gritting and clearing areas not covered by the above maps ie those immediately around their own buildings, including pathways and entrances. This includes departments located in other parts of the estate.  They are also responsible for ensuring they have enough salt and equipment to do this. 

Departments should allocate a member of staff responsible for undertaking a risk assessment, taking appropriate adverse weather action, and carrying out relevant advance checks as detailed below. Records of assessments and actions taken should be kept and maintained for a minimum of six years for insurance purposes.

Departments should inform Estates Services of the identity of the responsible staff member by emailing us at

Advance checks

Simple checks ahead of bad weather can save a lot of trouble later.

  • Gutters and drains – Estates Services carries out an annual clearance programme, but please alert us if you notice any blockages.
  • Frozen pipes – please report any areas, including outbuildings, greenhouses and roof top buildings, that may be unheated but have radiators and/or water services still connected.  We can drain these systems to prevent flooding from burst pipes. 
  • Outside taps – make sure these are isolated or frost-protected
  • Flood gates – departments that have flood gates supplied by Estates Services should ensure that these are available for use if required and that their staff are able to fit them.

To report a maintenance issue or for any queries relating to adverse weather planning, including advice on where to obtain supplies of road salt, please contact the Estates Services Helpdesk on 01865 (2)70877 or at

Advice to staff

The central Personnel team provides guidance for staff on what to do in extreme weather.

In general, Estates Services teams will work together to alleviate the effects of bad weather as quickly as possible, but in the event of widespread extreme conditions in which national agencies such as the police are telling the public to avoid travelling if possible, Estates Services cannot guarantee to provide full access to University sites for pedestrians and vehicles.

It is ultimately up to individual members of staff to judge what is and is not safe, and to act sensibly on this judgement. When snow, flooding or other extreme conditions mean getting to work as usual would be difficult or dangerous, they should make alternative arrangements.