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Oxford academics vote against lopping floors off contentious student flats

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Senior academics at Oxford University have voted against a motion which could have seen the removal of the top floors from six controversial student housing blocks

Designed by Kent-based Frankham Consultancy Group, the four and five-storey Castle Mill postgraduate buildings on the edge of Oxford’s Port Meadow have been the centre of ongoing controversy since planning permission was granted for the 312 home project in 2012.

Opposition group Save Port Meadow, as well as many leading academics, claim the £24 million university-backed development blocks key views of Oxford’s famous skyline.

However earlier today (10 February) the institution’s congregation - the university’s sovereign body made up of 5,000 academic and administrative staff - voted by 536 votes to 210 against a formal motion to reduce the height of the blocks.

The radical move would have seen the permanent removal of 38 bedrooms and was expected to come with a huge £30 million price tag.

The height reduction was one of three options put forward in a retrospective environmental impact assessment (EIA) drawn up for the university.

Other alternatives included: camouflaging the buildings with trees and wooden cladding; and the possible remodelling of the buildings’ roofs.

In a statement, an Oxford University spokesperson said: ‘The decisions of a congregation vote may be challenged in a postal ballot of all its members. It is open to supporters of the original resolution to seek such a ballot. 

‘The University Council will consider next steps on Castle Mill in due course and in the light of any postal vote.’


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