The Save Port Meadow Campaign report that the grass, into which the attempts to mitigate the damage to Oxford’s historic skyline caused by the carbuncle of the year runner up has been kicked, is getting longer. A consultation regarding potential mitigation has been extended until 11 September, which, as well as allowing for the Summer holiday period, also, as the campaign point out, delays potential mitigation work by allowing Oxford University to place students in the controversial accommodation blocks for the academic year 2015/2016.
The campaign also report that “the University is sticking to its “paint and planting” solution,” in an attempt to camouflage the site, even though a retrospective Environmental Impact Assessment argues that such a solution “does virtually nothing to address the documented damage to Oxford’s heritage landscapes…”. The campaigners point out that the masking solution was rejected by 95% of comments made in a previous round of consultations. Oxford City Council is also accused of crying “crocodile tears.” over their plea for “more creative solutions” after the campaign was allegedly refused a meeting to explore such ideas.
Meanwhile, it is also time to say “Ave et vale!” to two esteemed members of the Oxford community who had integral roles in planning the Port Meadow debacle University Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton and Council Head of Planning Michael Croften Biggs.
Of Mr Croften Bigg’s 13 year tenure Council Leader Bob Price said
“We will miss his professionalism and his wise advice on the many tricky planning issues that arise in a heritage city.”
However, Toby Porter, of the Save Port Meadow campaign, told the Oxford Times
“Planning is an unforgiving business. Whatever else he has achieved for the city, the enduring legacy of his time in this position will be the despised Castle Mill buildings, brought to life by one of the worst planning decisions for decades, not just in Oxford but the UK…The first priority for his successor in the role will be to restore the battered reputation of the council as trustworthy guardians of our city’s heritage and, by implication, to ensure that such a disaster never happens again.”
Finally the Oxford Preservation Trust, which the Save Port Meadow Campaign point out is chaired by a University Pro-Vice Chancellor, say a “pragmatic” and face saving solution is to undertake to demolish the flats in thirty years time when they have reached the end of their life.
That is of course unless Historic England [if it still exists in 2045] decide the blocks are part of Oxford’s heritage skyline of dreaming [if now slightly obscured] spires and lists them…