Plans submitted to the City Council by Jesus College for the building of a new quad have been welcomed by civic leaders and local businesses.
The College has proposed redeveloping the property they own at Northgate House, located on the corner of Market St. and Cornmarket (pictured above, rightmost building).
Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Principal of Jesus College, outlined four main goals for the redevelopment in a statement on the Jesus College website. These were:
“The need for additional space and facilities within College to meet our requirements for teaching and research;
The response of the College to the University’s ambition to grow postgraduate student numbers and related accommodation;
Our vision to create a public gateway for the College to facilitate outreach and access, making the College more accessible both physically and virtually; and
Establishing a Digital Hub that will bring together all at the College to facilitate knowledge exchange and impact.”
There is hope among the wider community that these plans will reinvigorate the dying Cornmarket and breathe new life into the Covered Market. In addition to providing the college with teaching rooms, a cafe and 68 student rooms for postgraduates, the college also proposed a flexible commercial plan for small units spread over three floors of the redeveloped site.
The current building, Northgate House, has been described by Council officials as a “monstrosity”. There have been no concerns raised about its demolition by groups such as Historic England, who have stated that the building “is not of architectural merit.”
With the opening of the Westgate Centre, the future of Cornmarket has been looking uncertain at best. Many major retailers have chosen to move from the street, leaving behind empty abandoned lots. It is hoped that this development will contribute to tackling this problem, preserving the status of Oxford’s city centre as a vibrant destination.