On Wednesday evening, a meeting of Oxford City Council’s west area planning committee granted permission for the new student development planned by Wadham.
The college is planning to construct a 135 bedroom development to provide homes for second year students who currently live out of College
The news follows a court hearing on Friday 20th January, when it was agreed that a group of homeless people could remain in occupation in a former VW garage on Iffley Road until April. In a statement released on Wednesday, the college expressed sympathy for the group but reiterated its decision:
“Wadham College has profound sympathy for the plight of the homeless in Oxford, and is in discussions with representatives of the homeless group.”
It continued: “Wadham is in contact with various local homelessness groups and the City Council in order to help find an amicable solution for the homeless people who need to find alternative shelter before the end of February.”
The site, currently leased by the Midcounties Cooperative from Wadham College, had been standing unused before the group of around 15 people moved in on New Year’s Eve. The Midcounties Cooperative, whose lease runs out in April, had agreed to not evict the squatters allowing the Iffley Open House group to further develop the site for those living there.
In April the lease will run out, at which point Wadham will begin construction for a 135-bedroom student accommodation development. The college intend to finish construction for September 2019, citing that to do so pre-construction demolition will start at the end of February.
If Wadham are able to negotiate with the Midcounties Cooperative to begin demolition work before the end of the lease in April, the Iffley Open House group will be required to leave the premises.
Whilst Iffley Open House have accepted that they will inevitably have to leave in April, they have stressed the importance of the shelter during the winter months. If the eviction date is brought forward, those staying in the building will be forced back onto the streets for a month longer than was originally expected.
With the planning for accommodation gathering pace, Iffley Open House will look to put pressure on Wadham to allow them to stay till April and postpone the demolition plans. It seems however, the most important factor will be the ongoing negotiations between the Midcounties Cooperative and Wadham.