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Oxford college and developer challenge housing policy adopted by city council

An Oxford college and a property developer have launched a legal challenge to a city council housing policy.

Merton College objects to a policy which states that planning permission for student accommodation of more than 20 bedrooms will be given only if a financial contribution is made towards social housing elsewhere in Oxford.

The college and its development partner McLaren Property argue that this would render unviable their proposal to build a block of 298 student units at Manor Place, in the city centre.

They said they had lodged a legal challenge against Oxford City Council’s adoption of its sites and housing plan, as this was the only step left open after the council approved the plan in February.

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“The proposed development is a 298 bed student accommodation scheme providing a high quality amenity space and common areas,” the college and McLaren said.

“The buildings will be designed to the highest standard, in keeping with the unique and sensitive location.”

A city council spokesman said the policy of requiring contributions to social housing had been successfully defended during a planning inspector’s examination of its plan and “it is regrettable that at this late stage that Merton College and McLaren Property have sought to use the legal process to challenge the Inspector's conclusions".

He added: “We will continue to defend the adoption of these policies as fair and appropriate.” 

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