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Student accommodation plans in Cowley Road gets go ahead

Plans to build 137 units of student accommodation development on top of the Tesco Metro store on 159-161 Cowley Road has been given the go-ahead by Oxford City Council's planning committee.

Under the plans, put forward by Locate Developments Ltd., the ground floor and first floor of the building would be remodelled and the building will be extended upwards to provide 137 units of purpose-built, managed student accommodation with associated management suite and communal facilities at upper levels.

Tesco will continue to occupy the ground floor and will use part of the first floor as storage and staff facilities.

It is thought that final approval will be subject to the completion of a section 106 agreement which would secure almost £860,000 for affordable housing, as well as contributions towards a travel plan.

A document published ahead of the meeting said the development is "acceptable in principle". It added: "The student accommodation is within Cowley District Centre, on a main arterial route through the City and with good public transport links.

"The development would also significantly enhance the existing building and would, as a result, enhance the street scene of the Cowley Road and District Centre as a whole."

However, not everyone is happy with the development which has been met with more than 100 objections. Tom Hayes, ward councillor for St Clement’s tweeted about the development saying "I’ll be speaking at the planning meeting in opposition to the student accommodation use for this development."

He added "There is an urgent need for more residential accommodation. The proposed development would boost the student economy in the local area at the expense of a mix of local businesses, services, and accommodation. We’d see an increasing studentification of the area and shift of the local population away from the diverse mix in East Oxford."

While many residents have criticised the scheme stating that the Cowley Road area is already ‘overpopulated’ with students, others have supported the move hoping that it will help reduce the number of HMOs in the area and make more houses available to families instead.

Lib Dem councillor Michael Gotch called the scheme 'very attractive architecturally' while planning cabinet member Alex Hollingsworth said the flats will be an improvement on what is there currently.