Refurbishment of student accommodation in Oxford’s Banbury Road will be going ahead as part of a drive for energy efficiency by the University.

Oxford City Council has granted planning permission for the eastern block of Summertown House, which provides graduate accommodation in North Oxford. The 1960s-era block is in “very poor condition” and has “very poor insulation”, according to a University spokesperson.

Part of the proposal is to construct an energy centre to accompany the refurbishment, which would heat the building sustainably.

The centre would have been situated to the north of the site, alongside properties on Upton Park Road. However, residents there raised concerns, and these plans were rejected by the council.

The University has agreed to discuss the issue further with local residents. Oxford City Council told Cherwell, “The energy centre has not been dropped from the proposals. Rather, an alternative location is being sought.

“Concerns were expressed about the original proposals by a number of neighbours in relation to emissions, noise, the visual impact of a flue, and so forth.”
Another proposed solution is to incorporate the energy centre within the eastern block of Summertown House itself, which could take up the space of two proposed extra rooms.

Responding to this, OUSU’s Vice President (Graduates), Jim O’Connell, stated, “Ideally, there shouldn’t be a trade off between this welcome commitment and wanting to green accommodation blocks. But whilst environmental concerns are important, accommodation-wise, too many graduates currently pay too much for too little.”

Zoe Conn, a finalist at St Hilda’s and a former director of the Oxford Climate Forum, remarked: “Making changes when it comes to energy and climate matters often becomes a bone of contention within communities, so it’s great that sensitive reassessments are being made so that the proposal goes ahead.”