Tag Archives: Oxford University
AFTER the recent explosion in Gibbs Crescent, following hard on the discovery of dangerous seeds the week before, I decided to exercise my rights under the Freedom of Information (FOI) act and ask the University what is stored in the Old Power Station (OPS).
The OPS is a stone’s throw if you’ve got a pitcher’s arm from Mill Street. I’d say the University’s reply is more than equivocal – you can read it here – and it does confirm the place contains many dangerous substances, including the fascinating element we now call Mercury.
Still, to look on the bright side, the University doesn’t have any radio isotypes stored in there. It probably has asbestos though. Ruskin used to hold its annual exhibition in there. I wonder if Ruskin College was informed about the dangers of “falling masonry” which prompted the University to obtain a pretty fast anti-squatting order? ♣
Last week, a group of homeless people known as the Iffley Open House (IOH), occupied a space in the Old Power Station – by the river and just yards from what was The Kite.
Homelessness has become a big problem in Oxford, with numbers of poor people being forced to sleep on the streets.
Now we local residents have received a letter from the University – reproduced below. The University wants to develop the power station into luxury flats for the Said Business School, which is now too far from Mill Street.
The University wants to kick out the IOH because, it claims, the building is unsafe. Us people in Mill Street know it’s unsafe because just a couple of weeks back two people touched some deadly seeds in the power station and had to be hosed down.
It is quite an adventure living on Mill Street, what with explosions, poisonous seeds, unexploded bombs and other goings on. ♥
AS WE mentioned a week or two back, Oxford University – which last year had zero plans for the Old Power Station (left) in Arthur Street, Old Osney, suddenly did a u-turn and said it would be leased to the Said Business School for 30 years.
You can see what the “congregation” said here. We are so looking forward to executive accommodations…
Anyway, down in Mill Street – we were written up in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales you know – and us moderns describe the shenanigans as Carry On Mill Street, we received a paper missive from the Said Business Centre inviting us to air our views.
Here’s what they had to say, sort of…. ♥
Here’s what the authorities said last year – Ox Uni “had no plans”. Now Oxford University has plans.
The Old Power Station has had an interesting past – in the late 1890s it provided electrical power to Oxford, fuelled by coal. A look at the 1901 census shows quite a few people in Mill Street worked as stokers to generate the energy. As far as I’m aware, it’s been used for many purposes since, including, anecdotal evidence suggests, testing jet engines. It is certainly much higher than it was originally.
I’m grateful to readers of this blog that have now indicated what its future might be. According to this Congregation notice:
“The capital investment priorities of the University, covering building, equipment, IT infrastructure and provision for matching emerging opportunities, are set out in the Capital Masterplan approved by Council. Two of the capital priorities have bearing on the future of the Old Power Station building.
“The first is a need for a Joint Museums’ Collections Study Centre – a facility that would bring together those parts of the museums’ collections which are not on display, or otherwise located, within their main premises (including artefacts currently located in the Old Power Station), in a state-of-the-art facility.
“The second is a need for better and more centrally located facilities for the Executive Education programme offered by the Saïd Business School. That facility would provide space for teaching and social interaction, together with accommodation. The Old Power Station has been identified as an ideal location for this facility, being in close proximity to both the school and the railway station.
“As each individual project within the Capital Masterplan remains subject to the usual approval processes within the University, Congregation’s authority for this future use of space at the Old Power Station is now sought. Project approval, through Council and its Planning and Resource Allocation Committee, will be sought in due course.”
To that end, the resolution is: “That the Old Power Station building (building number 189), approximately 4,020 sqm net usable area, be allocated to the Saïd Business School for a period of thirty years, the allocation being effective upon the building becoming vacant and subject to Council giving approval for the project to convert the building into a new Executive Education facility to proceed to completion.”
Well shiver my timbers! Some of us locals would like to know if the people who live in the Executive Accommodation will buy us locals a round at The Kite – a pub built in the early years of the 20th century, no doubt to satisfy the thirst of the poor bloody stokers. ♣
In a heady cocktail of sheer stupidity and egregious incompetence, Oxford City Council and Oxford University managed to blot the Oxford landscape by building six five storey blocks on the edge of Port Meadow.
Unfortunately for functionaries at both organisations, people at The Save Port Meadow Campaign and the CPRE managed to raise enough cash to force a retrospective environmental impact assessment – that was released in October 2014 and includes the following:
“It is considered that the high adverse impact on the high veritage value sites can only be reduced to medium adverse by the reduction in height of all the buildings under the option three mitigation measures.”
The four landscapes in question are Port Meadow itself, St Barnabas Church, the view of the famous “screaming spires” of the university and the River Thames and towpath.
The three options for mitigation are (1) use brick cladding and trees – cost £6 million; (2) flatten the roofs with cladding and trees – £11 million; and (3) remove a floor off each of the buildings – cost £12 million.
The campaign says that both the university and the council are being skinflints and want the cheapest option. As the campaigners say: “They want to minimise the embarrassment of their negligence in building the Port Meadow blocks, and also the cost and incnvenience.”
In 2011 the University said: “It has been concluded that the development will not be visible from the majority of Port Meadow.” A Mr Murray Hancock, a planning functionary at the Council, said: “It gives rise to some impacts but these are not significant.”
The campaign says there are various things people can do:
(1) Write to your city councillor.
(2) Email the City Council consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org by the 19th December using the ref 11/02881/FUL telling them why option 3 is acceptable.
(3) Go to the meeting held at 7:30PM on the 4th of December 2014 at St Barnabas Church, Cardigan Street, Jericho
You can also donate by going to www.justgiving.com/portmeadow ♣
I GET a lovely leaflet from those lovely people who opposed the Port Meadow development. You can email them at email@example.com, although I’m not sure if the lasses and lads are aware that Google on gmail monitors every email in and out.
There are some fab quotes on the leaflet. Colin Cook, a Labour councillor, describes the whole thing as “a storm in a teacup”. City council leader Bob Price says: “It is difficult to see precisely what is getting people so exercised.” Planning minister Nick Boles, MP, says: “A disgrace… one of the worst designs I’ve seen in the last 10 years.”
Now there is damage that needs to be undone, although some damage in our opinion at Volesoft is terminal. Although by nature of a leftish stance, we will never vote for our councillor Colin Cook ever again, despite his lovely cycle clips. We are even considering not voting for lovely Susanna Pressel, even though she is slightly leftish too. We at Volesoft think the Labour controlled Oxford City Council needs some Ex-Lax… ♦
It’s been a while since I’ve Volesofted, I’ve been on Defacebook a lot, but it occurs to me that Volesoft is worth keeping going.
Now this picture, taken here this morning, is of the west side of Mill Street, and looming over Arthur Street is what once was the Oxford Electric Power Station – it brought light to Oxford and beyond it is the river, where the barges brought coal and the stokers worked day and night to keep the juice pumping.
Other elements in its existence include being a testing place for Concord engines – heck that must have made quite a racket. And, right now, it is a repository for books, books and more books and is under the stewardship of Oxford University.
But the thing that intrigues me more is the number of bricks that make up this imposing edifice. I wouldn’t know how to begin to count them or their weight.
And talking about bricks, if I find the vandal who has started demolishing my front garden’s brick wall, I can assure you you will be well treated to Mageek justice… ♥
Just a few weeks ago, Oxford City Council put forward a proposal for the regeneration of the canal the other side of the Oxford Retreat pub on Hythe Bridge Street.
It really is pretty nice over there already, especially in summer, but can be a bit treacherous when the rain decides it is going to freshen up things. It’s also very nice on the Thames.
Just a few weeks back, when the weather was fair, I took a walk, five minutes from where I live on Mill Street, and noticed a little yellow sign on the way to Port Meadow. It is an application for student flats close to Fiddler’s Island, according to a letter by Julian Le Vay, who according to the Oxford Mail, lives in Abbey Road.
The application was withdrawn earlier this year, but Julian writes that it’s been re-submitted. We are still living with the Port Meadow student block fiasco – see the Ballad of Roger Dudman Way – and probably we have to really stay quite alert because our esteemed councillors don’t necessarily have eighteen heads with three eyes in each head and multiple arms, like some forms of Durga. ♦