The decision was made public on Tuesday the 23rd of January by the department of Planning and Regulatory Services, after a planning application was put forward in July 2023.
The student accommodation is set to be built on 13-15 Magdalen Street, currently mostly unoccupied. The site was previously home to the Fever nightclub, which permanently closed in 2021 as a result of the first Covid lockdown. An Odeon cinema, located right next to it, had suffered the same fate.
Alongside converting the first to the fourth floors of 13-15 Oxenford House into accommodation, the plan requested transforming part of the basement for a plant area and bin storage. The plan also detailed a roof extension above the front of the fourth floor, and a two-storey roof extension above the rear of the third floor.
The accommodation will also be furnished with a reception, break out area and cycle storage.
The plan was put forward by planning consultants Bidwells, on behalf of Croudace Properties last year.
The first floor above Five Guys is currently occupied by the Hindu Study Centre, but the rest of the building has been empty since 2021. The centre is now “seeking a new premises within the city.”
However, Carfax and Jericho Ward Councillor Alex Hollingsworth expressed his concerns about the site’s bin collections at the planning committee on the 23rd January. Hollingsworth said at the planning committee earlier this month: “I do have really strong concerns about the bin collection service.”
“You end up with a great sea of bins stuck outside in the open air perpetually contaminated and it is frankly a disgraceful mess which I hope will get resolved. One day before I die quite frankly.”
Hollingsworth also said that although there was a “whole load of stuff” he thought was positive about the plans for the “attractive building”, proper rubbish collection should be a “robust condition.” Concerns were also related over the storage of bins in the basement due to the “constraints of the site,” and it was said that there were “six bins for the entire thing.”
The plans were met with similar concerns from Councillor Anna Railton, cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, who said “where will the bins go when they’re waiting to be picked up because there’s an awful lot of doors everywhere.”
Cabinet Member for Citizen Focused Services and Council Companies, Nigel Chapman, also said “the tightness of the situation means you get a whole lot of waste being produced.”
It was also noted that on-site management would wheel the bins down to Magdalen Street.
However, an officer said that “this is not out of character to what is happening in the city centre. The idea that waste bins are going to be wheeled out onto Magdalen Street and left there is not something I can see myself. This would be managed in the same way.”
Last year a private citizen objected to the plans based on needs for local residents over students. He said in his letter to planners “my objection is that the city council – that does so much good work in housing and so many other services to the citizens in this city – are unable, or unwilling, to specify that this conversion be tailored to the needs of local people, as opposed to students.”
“We have many units, old and new developments for our visiting students. At the same time, we have a shortage of affordable flats and quality single person accommodation for our young Oxford-born people.”
“Please partner with a housing association, or purchase this for the city, and provide for the local long-term populace, to relieve the crisis that we the residents and our families are experiencing.”
The accommodation is likely to be appreciated by nearby Oxford colleges as the space will provide local housing in a central location for their students. In November this year, students from central Oxford colleges queued and slept outside of estate agents to secure student accommodation, a symptom of Oxford’s housing crisis.
Image Credit: Gazamp
Image description: the Magdalen Street Tesco and Five Guys