Plans put forward by Oriel College to build 31 graduate rooms on the site of a former nursery school in the Bartlemas conservation area, off Cowley Road, have been met by opposition from both local residents and the council.
The College has owned the land since 1329 and has tried to build on the site numerous times in the past, but each time the plans have ultimately been rejected.
The College appealed the rejection of its latest bid at a Planning Inspectorate hearing held in the Town Hall on Tuesday.
Oriel believe that their new plans will preserve the character of the area, which used to be the site of a medieval leper hospital.
In its written submission to the new appeal, the College said, “The East Area Parliament has come up with nothing new, no different angle. It has, having considered exactly the same issues as its professional advisers, taken the opposite view.”
It added it was “very unlikely” that the graduates resident in the proposed accommodation would cause any disturbance in the area.
A spokesperson for the Divinity Road Area Residents’ Association said, “The important sense of seclusion and isolation of the conservation area and the green buffer on its western edge which protects the listed buildings of the rural and medieval hamlet will be undermined”.
The Divinity Road Area Residents’ Association are have urged residents to participate in the campaign in order to preserve the site as a resource for students and residents alike.
According to the website of architects Marcus Beale, the proposed buildings are specifically designed to be eco-friendly, and will be environmentally friendly, with “low CO2 in construction” and “use of passive solar heating through orientation, shading and solar chimneys”.
Siestke Boeles, from Divinity Road Area Residents’ Association, said, “Local residents would like to see the redevelopment of the Old Nursery site, but for a development which has a community purpose and is in keeping.
“Both universities have sufficient student accommodation sites, and East Oxford is already saturated with students.”
Green city councillor Nuala Young said, “This is a very special little settlement in Oxford, and it is one of the few remaining sites of a medieval leper colony in the UK.
“Because of that, it is really important we defend its wonderful sense of isolation, peace and apartness. It could be a wonderful resource for people and students in the future.”
The results of the appeal will be released at the end of the month.