Congregation has voted against the motion to remove the top floor of the Castle Mill accommodation complex in a postal ballot. There were 460 votes for the motion, and 1696 votes against.
Castle Mill is a graduate accommodation complex by Port Meadow, and has been the cause of much controversy over the last few months. An Environmental Impact Assessment report in January found that the buildings had a high “adverse impact” on Port Meadow, the Oxford skyline, the Thames, and St. Barnabus Church.
The report suggested three options to rectify this, the third being to remove the top floor of the accommodation complex. This has been estimated to cost £12 million, and would require current residents to seek alternative accommodation for a year, leading many students to join the ‘Save Castle Mill’ campaign, attempting to prevent option three from being carried out.
The success of the ‘Save Castle Mill’ campaign has been a victory for OUSU. OUSU President Louis Trup told Cherwell, “I am delighted to hear that the student accommodation at Castle Mill has been saved. The ‘Save Castle Mill’ campaign has proven how students can come together and make a significant impact on issues affecting the University.
“I would like to say a massive thank you to the students who wrote to academics, stood outside of the Sheldonian, spoke to their tutors and more. OUSU will continue to campaign for good quality and affordable housing for all students.”
OUSU VP for Grads elect Nick Cooper also expressed his pleasure at the result of the vote, commenting, “I’m delighted that members of Congregation have turned out and supported the overwhelming view of the meeting in February to keep Castle Mill intact, and it’s unfortunate that we had to go through the unnecessary added rigmarole of a postal vote to get there. Accepting option three would have wasted millions of pounds that I look forward to helping to convince the University to use more effectively towards graduate scholarships.
“However, keeping the top floor of Castle Mill is not enough to solve the significant housing and financial problems faced by graduate students in Oxford – and I know that everyone involved in this Castle Mill struggle will continue to fight for more, better, and more affordable accommodation in the near future.”
This result is in accordance with the most recent vote on the motion, on Tuesday 10th February, where 72 per cent of voting members of Congregation chose not to remove the top floor of Castle Mill.
However, two days after this vote was taken, a postal vote on the motion was called. OUSU released a statement explaining, “The decision taken by a small but sufficient number of people to unnecessarily bring the decision made on Tuesday into question serves as another threat to residents of Castle Mill, students, and other people living in Oxford who will be hit with further rent spikes if this resolution passes.”