IHBC’s ‘Heritage from the doorstep’: New flats in Oxford would ‘overpower’ historic buildings

buildingThe Oxford Mail has reported on how experts have warned that a massive new block of flats in the centre of Oxford could ‘overpower’ historic buildings nearby.

image: Oxford Mail website

The Oxford Mail writes:

Property company A2 Dominion wants to build the complex in Paradise Street opposite the Westgate Centre but would need knock down homeless shelter Simon House. Now a design expert has said the proposals would have too much of an impact on historic listed buildings nearby.

Richard Peats, Historic England’s inspector of historic buildings and areas, told Oxford City Council the site represents a ‘golden opportunity’ to improve Oxford ‘with a well-designed new building’. But he added: ‘The current proposals don’t take this opportunity but the concept is not fundamentally flawed and with further thought… it could turn into a good building.’

The new flats would be four to five storeys high and taller than Simon House. Mr Peats said the building would have a ‘much greater presence’ on Paradise Street. He added while the design looks to ‘break up’ the building and ‘create the impression of separate blocks’, this has ‘not been done with enough conviction’ in the current plan. He added: ‘While recesses have been cut into the façade it still reads as a very large single block that snakes down Paradise Street. As a result the façade would have far too much presence in the street, overpowering and overbearing the nearby listed buildings and thereby harming their significance.’

The site is in the Oxford City Conservation Area, which also includes 29 Castle Street, which is Grade II listed, Greyfriars, which is Grade II* listed and the Grade II listed Jolly Farmers pub. ‘Given its sensitivity, it is unfortunate that [Historic England] was not involved in pre-application discussions about these proposals,’ Mr Peats added…

None of the 30 flats in Paradise Street would be classed as affordable…

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