Image Credit: Cameron Samuel Keys

All Souls plans to revitalise part of Oxford High Street

All Souls College has submitted a planning application to Oxford City Council to redevelop and revitalise part of Oxford’s High Street.

The graduate college acquired 10-15 High Street in 2020 and 8 High Street in December 2021 as part of their “commercial investment portfolio”.

The project aims to relieve pressure from college facilities and to help preserve the historic essence of the High Street. 

All Souls is one of Oxford’s wealthiest colleges, despite its small number of members. In 2018, The Guardian reported that the college had consolidated net assets of £429.8m.

The planning application with Wright and Wright notes that “the number of fellows has grown by around 20 in recent years, leading to pressures in allocating studies.” 

The architects explain that the project “will create new accessible seminar rooms, study spaces, and staff areas.”

The application stressed improved accessibility, given the “main college site” has noticeably “poor access”. 

This includes improving access to the Covered Market, “contingent on agreement with Oxford City Council” (which owns the Covered Market), by creating “step-free access to the shop units”. 

The project will revamp internal spaces but also recover and restore external features. 

According to the design and access statement, All Souls proposes that shop fronts are “cleaned, repaired and restored” and that “new, high-quality timber shop fronts…replace the existing, disparate, modern street frontages”. 

The project seeks to promote sustainability by preserving the buildings’ “historic fabric” and taking a “low-energy, deep retrofit approach” to help move the college “as far as possible to a net zero position”.

All Souls’ plans come amidst Oxford City Council’s own remodel of Oxford High Street. They are currently “working on a £6.87m redevelopment of Oxford’s historic Covered Market”, which includes new and improved seating areas, entrances, and bathroom facilities.

Significant progress has been made recently on the part-pedestrianisation of Market Street, intended as a “trial” to help “inform a larger and/or more long-lasting pedestrianisation at a later date.” 

All Souls now awaits planning permission for their project. 

Image credit: Cameron Samuel Keys

Image description: All Souls College