It’s cars v students in parking fight

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New proposals for student housing in St Clement’s have met opposition from locals, who claim that the plans still do not do enough to protect local business from the loss of parking spaces.

Developers want to build two four-storey blocks on the site of an existing council car park.

The plans will preserve 80 of the 120 current spaced by construct- ing the buildings on stilts, but the entire car park will need to closed during construction.

Under the new proposal, plans have been drawn up to provide a temporary car park and minibus service for 65 vehicles off Marston Road, near the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, while the work takes place.

However local businesses remain doubtful about the development, fearing that the disruption to parking will harm trade in the area.

Clinton Pugh, owner of Café Coco said: “I did a survey in the café one weekend, and 30 percent of the customers at least had used the car park.”

He added that the car parking spaces were “crucial” for retailers in the area, saying: “Without a proper car park, businesses will go bust.”

Pugh added: “I don’t think every- one’s against the development so long as it improves the area. The main thing is that the development works.”

Suresh Kumar of Oxford News & Booze said: “We will go out of business if the development goes ahead, customers rely heavily on the car park.”

The scheme aims to reintroduce the former street pattern on the site, once occupied by the historic Pensons Gardens, to enhance views from St Clement’s towards the River Cherwell and the meadows.

Roger Smith of planning consult- ants Savills told the Oxford Mail: “We acknowledge this is a controversial proposal but the principle of redevelopment has been established in the Local Plan. It will help recreate the old route down to the river.

“We consider that this is a much better proposal, which takes account of the conservation area, the amenity of local residents and provides a greater level of temporary parking during the period of construction.”

He hoped that a planning application could be submitted next month, with students moving in by September 2013. The plans include new public toilets and the river bank area would be landscaped.

Graham Jones, City Councillor for the St Clement’s ward, said: “The area has been poorly served by planners and developers over the years. Historically it was treated as a backwater of Oxford and subject