St Cross appeals planning decision

St Cross College has lodged an appeal against Oxford City Council’s decision to reject its recent planning application.

St Cross applied last year to construct an extension with 53 new bedrooms, a lecture theatre, library and seminar rooms. The planning application for the extension was rejected in October, on the basis that, “In a sensitive historic location… [the project] would have an unacceptable impact on the special character and appearance of the conservation area in which it lies.”

There were strong objections from residents concerning the impact of the extension upon the local area.

Cherwell understands that at least eight of the original objections to the proposals came from Oxford academics.

St Cross mentioned in its appeal that it is currently able to accommodate only 3% of its students and has the lowest number of library spaces per student of all Graduate Colleges.

It also noted that the dining hall is currently unable to provide daily breakfast and dinner due to the low levels of students living on-site.
Oxford City Council has responded with an 80 page document and will defend their decision.

The Oxford Civic Society has also objected to the appeal, claiming that the extension will have negative effects on a Grade 2 listed historic wall and reduce sunlight on Pusey Street. The Society has requested to speak at the hearing.

Brendan Riley, a student at St Cross, told Cherwell, “Top-notch facilities are an integral part of the academic mission and to the future of the college. I hope there will be a positive resolution to the current impasse.”
Another student, Jonathan Askonas, said. “I hope St Cross will use this opportunity to commission a design that furthers the strengths of the current proposal and continues to address the wishes of the current students.”

Another commented, “St Cross is in urgent need of first-rate facilities to remain competitive with bigger, more well endowed colleges. A new quadrangle will go far to address this deficit.”

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However, not all St Cross students are in favour of the expansion. One graduate anonymously commented for the Cherwell, “I think it is ugly, and though modern architecture has its place, it does not fit well in Oxford, or with the other buildings on the site”.

Details from St Cross’ appeal suggest that the college is keen to get the process over as quickly as possible in order for construction to proceed in the summer, minimizing disruption.