What has happened since the community consultation event?

In October 2016, some 3,200 leaflets were circulated to households and businesses in a wide area around the Cowley Barracks site inviting local people to a consultation event at St Francis’ Church in Hollow Way on proposals for the future use of Cowley Barracks.

Residents expressed various concerns. The following questions and answers address many of these issues:

Why does Oxford Brookes need more student accommodation at this time?

More students are wanting to attend Oxford Brookes. Both Oxford University and Oxford Brookes have an agreement with Oxford City Council that they will not go over a 3,000 threshold of their students living outside University-owned or purpose-built accommodation. More purpose-built accommodation for students in Oxford means existing and future Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) can be used for local people who cannot afford to rent a complete home. Many of the occupants of HMOs are carrying out vital jobs in the community such as hospital workers, care assistants, social workers or teachers and employees of colleges who do not provide tied housing.

There is a requirement for more purpose-built accommodation for students at Oxford Brookes. Oxford Brookes hopes that the Cowley Barracks site will be built and ready for its students in September 2019.

In Canterbury last year, the vice chairman of the planning committee supported an application for more purpose-built student accommodation, saying that for every 500 student rooms provided it meant that there would be around 100 fewer HMOs being additionally created for students

Why has the number of student rooms been increased to 885?

With rising demand, Oxford Brookes requires extra rooms. Oxford City Council officers have accepted the rationalisation of the layouts including a reduction in the overall size of student rooms and alterations to the communal areas, café, rental unit and community space. They acknowledge that both Unite Students and Oxford Brookes are comfortable with the proposed sizes of rooms as it encourages better social interaction amongst students.
The increased density also allows affordability for students and reduces their reliance on the rental market in Oxford where there is less value for money.

What other changes have been made to the scheme since the public exhibition in October 2016?

Before the exhibition, meetings were held with Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council officers and The Oxford Design Review Panel (ODRP). The panel was established by Oxford City Council in 2014.

A meeting of the ODRP in November 2016 noted a number of steps had been taken to address the panel’s earlier comments. The ODRP said further engagement with the panel was not essential, given the progress since the previous review. The landscape design and treatment of the northern strip (Hundred Acres Close) was much improved. The creation of a community hub to provide students and members of the public to interact was positive.

The building footprint has been reduced along the ground floor at the rear of the northern boundary (Hundred Acres Close) and eastern boundary (Kennedy Close) so that buildings are set back.

The brick wall around the front of the keep and along James Wolfe Road from its junction with Hollow Way has been removed so that the area is open to the public and there is greater landscaping.

More detailed information on the changes can be viewed in a separate publication, The Design and Access Statement, which is available on the council’s website as part of the planning application reports.

The changes made as a result of feedback from The Oxford Design Review Panel are shown later in this section.

What is the amount of landscaped areas in the planning application?

The landscaped areas cover 35%, over and above that which is expected from a development of this size.

Is the café and retail shop still in the revised scheme?

Yes, the café and shop have been slightly enlarged.

What are the traffic differences between a student accommodation scheme and a development of private housing?

Housing would have flats as well as some houses. This would mean that there would be car parking and more traffic using the junction of James Wolfe Road and Hollow Way. The residents would therefore be more likely to use their cars whereas students living in managed accommodation are not permitted to bring cars to Oxford and they use the University-funded BROOKESbus or cycle.

Just to confirm, will there be any parking on site for students?

No. One facet of the tenancy agreement between Unite Students and the students is that no cars are allowed.

What parking will there be on site?

It will be a car-free development, other than 16 disabled student spaces and staff cars.

When the site was operated by BT, what was the number of vehicles entering and exiting the site on a typical day?

Conservatively about 80-100 vehicles per day. It used to be an MoT station and was also utilised by the AA trucks. Of the vehicles using the site, around 50% were HGVs and a further significant number were diesel vans as opposed to family cars.

James Wolfe Road currently suffers from parking in the road, so how will this be stopped?

Unite Students' tenancy agreement will say no cars should be brought to Oxford and this will be highlighted to prospective tenants. There is no student parking at Oxford Brookes' Headington Campus (except disabled parking).

The site will have a travel plan to encourage and monitor travel behaviour, which will sit alongside the management plan setting out how the start/end of term parking will operate.

In any case, Oxfordshire County Council is, quite separately, proposing a car parking zone to control on-street parking in streets bounded by the Eastern By-pass, Horspath Driftway, roads east of Hollow Way and Horspath Road Cowley Barracks and the Paul Kent building would be excluded from having parking permits.

How will the arrival and departure of students in their parents’ cars be dealt with?

There will be temporary car park spaces on site, specifically for the “move in” period and parents and students will be sent a map advising them on access to the property, their arrival time slot, parking arrangements whilst unloading cars and other car parking once the cars are unloaded. Public car parks are available within 20 minutes of the site for longer term parking post-drop off. The same procedure will be followed for collecting students.

Will there be any “planning gain” money for traffic related schemes?

The proposed development will be subject to developer contributions, in accordance with Oxford City Council policy. In addition, the proposed development will be subject to Section 278 works on the highway adjacent to the site.

With more students living in the area, will there be overcrowding on the buses?

The BROOKESbus is a partnership between the Oxford Bus Company and Oxford Brookes and links the Oxford Brookes Oxford campus sites with all Oxford Brookes student accommodation. These services are convienient and frequent. All Oxford Brookes students living in halls are issued with a BROOKESkey to use the University-funded BROOKESbus.

The bus stops on Hollow Way are served by Route U4, U5 and U5X. The U4 and U5 connect directly to Headington Campus with a journey time of about 15 minutes.

Recently the Stagecoach service 10 has seen single decker buses replaced by double decker buses, increasing the seating capacity of each bus from 38 to 76. This service is used mainly by the general public rather than students who enjoy free fares on the BROOKESbus.

As local residents are worried about noise and bad behaviour from the students, can they be assured that there is a mechanism in place to report such activity and will it be dealt with promptly?

Unite Students is the largest developer and manager of purpose-built student accommodation in the UK. It looks after over 50,000 students, of which, by September, will have 610 in Oxford. The company was founded in 1991 and management procedures have been developed over 25 years, through experience and consultation with students, their parents and neighbours.

The management office will be open 24/7 and this is the residents’ point of contact. Unite acknowledges and respects the rights of adjoining residents and businesses to a quiet life and will work to ensure that these rights are not compromised. A quarterly meeting with representatives of a residents’ association can be convened to review any ongoing areas of concern. Noise and bad behaviour complaints will be regarded as a serious breach of tenancy and can lead to eviction.

Why is the new keep a modern building compared with the former keep?

The Oxford Design Review Panel suggested changes to the design of the keep and sought to have a modern “gateway” building. The windows have been enlarged on Hollow Way and these provide views from communal rooms over the golf course.

Are there adequate interior rooms for students to meet up and recreational spaces within the landscaped areas?

Yes. There are numerous indoor rooms for students to meet up. The Quads will provide informal external meeting areas for students.

Will the existing walls at the rear of properties in Kennedy Close and Hundred Acres Close remain?

Yes. The remaining BT structure at the rear of the properties in Kennedy Close will be demolished but the wall linked to it will be repaired following the demolition of the building and it will be retained.

What will happen to the “No man’s land” between the northern brick wall and the fences of houses in Hundred Acres Close?

This land is under the control of Unite Students who will work with residents to ensure this area is properly maintained.

Is it planned that the buildings will be used in vacation times?

Some of the buildings will be used during the vacation period.

Will the community room be available to local groups and how will this work?

Yes. The lettings will be arranged through the management office.

How will Cowley Barracks’ history be commemorated on the site?

Unite Students is considering naming the Quads after Sir John Moore, who was a hero in the Battle of Corunna in Spain in 1809 and Lord Napier, who commanded the Peninsula War against Napoleon and died in 1853. An information board will be provided outlining the history of Cowley Barracks.

Responses to feedback from the The Oxford Design Review Panel post-community consultation:

  • The Parade has been realigned to coincide with the Paul Kent Hall entrance. This creates a stronger relationship between the two sites and will help the occupants of Paul Kent Hall to feel welcomed and included;
  • The boundary along James Wolfe Road has been softened with trees to reduce the austere appearance and create a more welcoming street scene. The boundary wall around The Keep has been removed to create a more active frontage and visual engagement with the street;
  • Increased area of student collaboration space has been allocated and in numerous locations around the site. This makes it easy for students to access and create more of a sense of community within the site and with other students from Paul Kent Hall opposite.
  • Height and massing across the site has been reviewed. Building heights now step down either side of The Keep reinforcing The Keep as a landmark building;
  • The appearance of The Keep has been reviewed to include large glazed panels at the south-west corner to provide a strong focal point at the James Wolfe Road/Hollow Way junction. The Keep is distinct from other buildings as it has different materials, splayed reveals – orientated towards the best views and deeply recessed windows to suggest a robust construction, reminiscent of the former Keep. The single windows staked vertically, roof terrace and building height further differentiate The Keep from other buildings;

The Keep's design now has large glazed panels to provide a strong focal point at the James Wolfe Road/Hollow Way junction.

  • The entire ground floor of The Keep is student collaboration space which will attract students in this key location. The increased floor to ceiling height on the ground floor reinforces the appearance of this space as a communal facility.
  • Links between buildings are strongly expressed with transparent glazed enclosures which reveal the vertical core circulation within;
  • The height of the buildings either side of the entrance to The Parade have been mirrored to create a stronger symmetrical gateway entrance to the site and ensure a clear visual hierarchy of buildings;
  • The window and dormer appearance and sizes have been rationalised to provide a more coherent scheme;
  • Building footprint reduced as buildings no longer step out on ground floor along the rear of the north and east boundaries, so increased exterior recreation space along these boundaries are created;
  • The elevations have projected facades in key locations to create interest and express kitchen and core locations internally. Kitchens located at corners of the blocks where possible to allow inclusion of large glazed areas to provide focal point from outside and views across the site;
  • South-facing external space improved to the café, retail store and residences along James Wolfe Road by moving the buildings on the frontage northwards. This creates more open space onto James Wolfe Road and softens the appearance of the street, creating more space for landscaping and external seating.