Conflict over a local resource, Castle Mill Development Oxford

The Castle Mill Development on Roger Dudman Way is a new student accommodation block that has cost the University of Oxford £21.5 million to construct. It has 437 units including specialist disability flats and couples studios. All aimed at graduate university students. It has caused conflict with local residents who argue that the buildings (which are 4-5 storeys high) ruin the view of Oxford’s dreaming spires from the Port Meadow (which is an ancient area of common grazing land, that has been designated an area of Special Scientific Interest and a place of outstanding natural beauty.


The land initially received planning permission for 6 blocks of 3-4 levels in height in 2005. Following a university led consultation process approval was extended to encompass 8 blocks 5-6 levels in height. 6 signs were placed near the proposed site and an advert was placed in a local newspaper however protestors argue that this was misleading. Protesters argue that at this stage the city council should have carried out an environmental impact assessment. This all occurred in 2011. In 2012 a petition was created by the campaign to protect rural england who asked the West Area Planning Committee to review application however they decided that the planning law had not been breached. There was a potential cost of £1000 pound to Oxford City Council (the local planning authority) had this not been the case. In 2014 the university voluntarily produced an environmental audit. Oxford University reviewed 3 options to reduce the impact of these buildings. The University rejected the option to remove two floors from the top of the buildings to remove the impact on the views from port meadow. The City Council employed SLR Consulting to review the university’s decision making processes and they said the university did not consider all the options thoroughly enough and that there were many omissions.  In 2016 after further protests the universities congregation decided that the idea proposed by the Save Port Meadow campaign wasn’t suitable and instead decided to spend £6 million on creating differently coloured classing and planting trees. This was approved by the City Council who gave it planning permission in Feb 2016.


Wins Losses
Oxford University -Student Accommodation has been built therefore allowing more university students to live in university provided accommodation. -This has cost more than was previously planned. There are the costs of holding a meeting of the congregation, carrying out the environmental review and £6million for the changes.
Oxford City Council -Has a target that only 3000 university students from Oxford University and Oxford Brookes should be living outside university provided accommodation. This has opened up more of the local housing stock to local residents who will live in the houses all year round.

-Was found to not be in the wrong when their planning decisions were reviewed by the West Area Planning Committee.  

-Cost of employing SLR consulting to carry out environmental review.

-Public Criticisms of the planning process and how OCC carried it out. Loss of political support for councillors.

-Planning Minister Nick Bowles called the decision disgraceful.

Oxfordshire Campaign for the protection of Rural England / local residents / Campaign to Protect Port Meadow from Oxford University -Buildings to be cladded and trees erected therefore lessening the problem.

-Forced review of the councils planning procedures.

-Buildings remain 6 storeys and the views are still impeded.

-Financial cost and time dedicated to the campaign

-Light pollution has been created.

-Former brownfield site redeveloped.