Tag Archives: Gibbs Crescent

Shocking video shows Gibbs Crescent threat

Readers of Volesoft.com are already aware of the goings on in Mill Street, Oxford – some salacious details were made famous by Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales – the Miller’s Tale.  No doubt you have also seen previous posts here about Gibbs Crescent – a planning application made by A2Dominion was granted, despite safety concerns and waved through by the OCC committee on dubious grounds. All records of comments by residents have been obliterated. As well as representations by public authorities.

 

Gibbs Crescent is close to Cherwell College, and applications by A2Dominion were shown plans that showed fire engines couldn’t get to the proposed development. The video says it. All. Cherwell College is as close to Gibbs Crescent as a ciggie paper.

A further application is now under consideration by the egregious OCC planning committee – to build an extra two stories on Cherwell College – even though such an application was trashed by an HM Gov inspector years back.

You can see the existing comments about Cherwell College here.  

We had the wildlife lady down Chaucer’s street last week, listening to concern from the residents about the obliteration of albino badgers and bats, but questioned closely by the Oxford Badger Group. Julia has filed an objection but submitted this too, which is worth reproducing. So I will, below. Louise is the wildlife officer at OCC.

Residents of Mill Streets have photos and videos of bats, badgers, frogs and foxes, so we sincerely hope that sense and sensibility prevail here. 

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Dear Louise,
Thank you so much for coming to meet residents at Mill Street on Friday. We really appreciate it.
 As you heard there are many concerns about this speculative application and it is hoped that the Planning Officer will judge that this is an over-development of the site which will impact negatively on the basic rights of the neighbours .
What is clear is that residents are very enthusiastic and supportive of the rich variety of wildlife including badgers that visit their gardens and which they have nurtured over the years. As I explained, I visited the site before it was first  developed  and although there were no active setts there was evidence that the badgers used the site and the wooded, scrub area was a welcome refuge for a range of wildlife  in an increasingly built up city setting. The building that went up was a clear and intrusive over-development of the site with no environmental benefits, biodiversity gain or understanding of its context. The fact that there is a wealth of wildlife in the the area, including protected species, has not been recognised in any part of this inappropriate development, The mitigation has fallen on the neighbours  who have welcomed the dispersed wildlife into their own gardens.
OBG hope that this further application which is clearly about greed and not need, will be rejected. Times have changed because of the worldwide pandemic and the need for more student accommodation and park and rides need to be reconsidered in the  light of fundamental changes in travel, work/ study environment and retail.
What is clear is that there needs to be a greater focus on  preserving the diminishing wildlife of Oxford and making sure that any development results in biodiversity gain and not loss, which has not been the case with the Cherwell development.
OBG would like to see the following measures implemented on the Mill Street application site,  if permission is granted:
Measures to compensate for the initial loss of habitat and foraging on the site
Fencing which is wildlife friendly
Reduced light  and noise pollution.Why are lights allowed 24/7 ?
Planting which is species friendly, including living roofs.
Method statement for construction which is environmentally friendly.
OBG would like to see the City Council adopt strategies which respect the mosaic of habitats of  and wildlife within the city, with a more coherent and joined up policy. Too many badger setts have been lost  because of development and wildlife is diminishing at an alarming rate.  A new approach is needed and Oxfordshire Badger Group would work with the Council and other authorities to bring about changes before it is too late.
Best Wishes,
Julia
Oxfordshire Badger Group.

 

Oxford City Council flouts nationwide laws

A cadre of councillors in the World Heritage city of Oxford has decided that blind and disabled people will have to suffer a dictat from planners and endure an egregious development that will leave people in the cold.

Two nationwide organisations for the disabled pointed out that “developments” at Gibbs Crescent took no notice of statutory laws, fire access laws, and common humanity, including United Nations, British, and European Commission  laws. Continue reading

Mill Street bans HGVs for some reason…

There are some local difficulties in Mill Street, OX2. Here are some photographs I snapped last night. Good luck with the development of the Old Power Station and Gibbs Crescent! And, by the way, Oxford City Council planning doesn’t make it easy to upload graphics to its web site. Wonder which IT company is making dosh out of us Council Tax Payers.


Gibbs Crescent: we get the lowdown and the highdown too

So today we took ourselves to St Frideswide’s Kirk, on the Botley Road, the one that couldn’t afford to build a spire although it tried to crowdfund it back in the daze. We’d never been inside before. (See footnote after the pictures – Ed.)

We only knew there was a public consultation there this evening because we’d seen a flyer in our letterbox in Mill Street from massive housing association A2Dominion last week – there was no notice outside of the kirk, either.

Regular readers of this bog will remember that Mike Magee almost evacuated himself when he heard the explosion on St Valentine’s Day (please excuse picture).

Anyway, here below are pictures of the project that A2Dominion plans to replace and displace the current residents of Gibbs Crescent. A2D officials referred to the residents being “decanted”, which is a new one on us for people.

Once the residents have been “decanted”, which could take as long as six months or longer, A2D will set in motion an application for planning permission, for 140 units on the site, some going as high as six stories, with space for only a few car spaces for wheelchair access.

Some of the properties will be dedicated to social housing – as far as we can gather it’s a portion of the 50 percent of the properties that will be “affordable” housing. The rest of the non-affordable properties will be let. An A2D functionary said any profits will be ploughed back into the housing association. The whole process could take three or more years until completion.

Unfortunately, no plans are available from A2D on the World Wild Web (sic) and there were no handouts, so we took these snaps below. If you have any questions, A2D will be glad to answer them. Email Claire Bartlett – claire.bartlette@a2dominion.co.uk at A2D by Thursday, the 27th of September, the year of our Good Lord! 2018.

The redevelopment of Gibbs Crescent, of course, will further gentrify West Oxford, init?

And due to the redevelopment of the Old Oxford Power Station, there will be much trundling to and fro in the narrow Victorian street called Mill Street over the next few years, and of course the Botley Road too will, as usual, be free of traffic.

We believe that St Frideswide, the patron saintess of Oxford, and her kirk was probably based on a pagan goddess called Freya or Frigga or something. But that’s all lost in the past. Don’t mention Pusey!!!

Here at volesoft.com, we’re talking about the future. The future of Gibbs Crescent, one of the few – if any – social housing communities left in the centre of Oxford, hangs in the balance. One source at A2D whispered – of course off the record – that many of the residents will be glad to leave the centre of the City.

With a little help from their friends, of course.

Frideswide Square – so good they fixed it thrice

Residents of Mill Street had a missive from Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) in early February headed “improvements at Frideswide Square” and penned by Owen Jenkins, the grandly named director for infrastructure delivery.

You can find the details of the seven week scheme to repair Frideswide Square at this link, – although you won’t find the letter, I don’t think.

West Oxford is being “regenerated” and some people might think that’s a good thing – certainly house prices here in Mill Street continue to  go through the roof.

Owen said, in his billet doux, that cyclists will “benefit” from “new dropped kerbs” while OCC is is providing “tactile paving” for “visually impaired users” at all crossing points.

Now, here’s the thing. Pedestrians and motorists don’t really know whether people or cars have any right of way, so people don’t know whether these “crossing points” are safe.

Owen is, no doubt, too young to remember this, but in the 1930s  Hore Belisha (pictured, above) had a bright idea to put lights and stripes on roads – “zebra crossings” – and introduced the driving test. The “crossing points” at Frideswide Square don’t have any stripes so we are all taking a bit of a risk, or maybe “dicing with death”.

Why does that matter? Well, because the square is close to the railway station and also funnels a considerable amount of motor traffic into Oxford using the already congested Botley Road, motorists and pedestrians unfamiliar with the weirdness have every chance of being confused by what’s going on. Even us local residents are confuseniks.

The scheme starts on the 11th of February and finishes on the 23rd of March 2018, if we’re lucky. 

Gibbs Crescent, Oxford – it’s the nightmare on Mill Street!

Blossom in Oxford in Spring

On the 14th of February this year, at 4:45 PM, a  huge explosion hit West Oxford.

I was in the wazzeria at the time, but the explosion was so great my windows bowed and I almost evacuated myself. I didn’t. I finished my wee and checked things out.

It seems some crazy greezer had blown up a house in Gibbs Crescent. He killed himself with the explosion – luckily no one else – and we’re waiting for the inquest to give us some rhyme or reason. And have been waiting for some time now. For the inquest.

I have some friends down in Gibbs Crescent, so have been following this closely.  Susanna Pressel and Colin Cook, the local Labour councillors, have involved themselves and got their faces in the Oxford Mail.

But, although I am by nature an anarcho-syndicalist – read trade unionist and NUJ member for that, I thought I’d drop a line to our newly elected LibDem MP – that Layla Moran – who seems to have pursued this story in an exemplary way. I draw your attention, for example, to the almost complete lack of social housing she highlights, and to the big big question.

When A2Dominion “rehouses” the Gibb Crescent residents, where are they going to go? ♥

Ms Moran wrote to me on Friday:

“Dear Mike

“Further to our previous correspondence, and particularly focusing on Gibbs Crescent, I have now received responses from Dawn Wightman, Director of Housing for A2Dominion, and Patsy Dell, Head of Planning Services at Oxford City Council.

“Ms Wightman confirms that any plans to redevelop Gibbs Crescent would include 50% affordable housing, consisting mostly of 1 and 2 bed apartments with some 3 bed properties.  She has not indicated what proportion of these affordable properties would have social rents.  The properties are described as being significantly larger than those currently at Gibbs Crescent, but A2Dominion do not confirm how many of the new homes would be 1 bed.

“A2Dominion have also outlined a number of the benefits that they feel the redevelopment of Gibbs Crescent could bring, though have not indicated what assurances they intend to provide existing tenants.

“Ms Dell confirms that Oxford City Council has not yet had any detailed preapplication discussions with A2Dominion regarding proposals to redevelop Gibbs Crescent.  I understand that officers at the Council held a meeting with A2Dominion, in which they discussed the need for public consultation on any proposals, but that by early December the Council had not had any follow up to this meeting.

“One of the issues Gibbs Crescent residents have raised with me is the serious shortage of social housing available in Oxford.  In light of this, I asked Ms Dell to confirm how many social properties are currently available for let.  She has replied that out of 7746 Oxford City Council properties and 3753 housing association properties, there are only 14 currently advertised as being available to let, with 2858 households currently on the housing register.

“I share the concern expressed by many Gibbs Crescent residents that these proposals would reduce the stock of social housing available in Oxford, rather than increasing it as is needed, and appreciate the impact that redeveloping Gibbs Crescent could have on existing tenants, including those who have lived there for many years.

“I hope that this information is useful.  I will continue to pursue these issues with the Council and A2Dominion, and will share any updates I receive with you.

“Kind regards,
Layla”

Layla Moran MP
Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon
Layla Moran
Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon