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Tuesday22 July 2014

Council set to pass Fletcher Priest's Oxford College plans

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Fletcher Priest Architects’ £10 million project to build a new library and learning centre at an Oxford college are set to be approved next week, despite heated objection from conservation groups.

The proposals require the demolition of a modern gatehouse and Edwardian cottage at St Anne’s College.

An attempt to have the 1960s gatehouse spot listed was rejected by architecture minister John Penrose earlier this summer - one of his first listing decisions - clearing the way for the scheme.

Now Oxford City Council’s north area committee, which meets on October 7, is expected to grant approval to the “appropriate and efficient” design, arguing that the loss of the heritage is justified.

English Heritage has raised concerns about the scheme and The Twentieth Century Society made a fierce objection, claiming the loss of the gatehouse, by university specialist HKPA, would be a “regrettable loss to the architectural history of the college and Oxford”.

The Society also described the new design as “monolithic and inflexible”.

The Oxford Architectural and Historic Society Victorian Group has also objected, pointing out that the gatehouse was included in Pevsner’s Buildings of England.

However council officers argue the new building, which boasts three storeys above ground plus a basement and would be linked to the college via a sunken garden, would “add another layer of history” to the college.

The scheme is part of a huge development drive at Oxford University, including a £50 million new campus at neighbouring Keble College by Rick Mather, and a series of new buildings on the site of the former Radcliffe Infirmary.

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