7 october 2009

Planning permission granted on Radcliffe Observatory Quarter


Somerville illustration
New buildings at Somerville College, part of the first stage of the ROQ project.

Planning permission has been granted for the first stage of Oxford University’s Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ), one of the most significant development projects the University has undertaken for more than a century.

The ROQ is a 10-acre site in central Oxford, bound by the Woodstock Road, Somerville College, Walton Street, Observatory Street, and Green Templeton College, and will accommodate new teaching and learning space for the University over the next 20 years.

Chair of the ROQ Board, Professor Anthony Monaco said: 'The University is very pleased about planning permission for the first phase of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter project.

'We look forward to the restoration of the listed buildings including the Radcliffe Infirmary, St Luke's Chapel and the Outpatient's Building for University academic and administrative purposes. In addition, the extension of Somerville College for student accommodation and the new pedestrian route linking Walton Street and Woodstock Road are essential to the southern end of the site.'

Planning permission was submitted to Oxford City Council for the refurbishment of the Radcliffe Infirmary and St Luke’s Chapel, as well as remodelling and refurbishing the Outpatients' building. The Grade II* 18th century infirmary will have later 19th and 20th century additions removed and will be converted in to central University accommodation.

The University is very pleased about planning permission for the first phase of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter project.

Professor Anthony Monaco

The former Grade II Listed Outpatients Building is being converted into a new home for the Ruskin School of Art. In addition to detaching the building from the Radcliffe Infirmary and restoring the latter's integrity, the proposals involve the erection of a three storey extension, or screen, between the two wings of the building.

Demolition of later additions will restore the setting of the Grade II St Luke’s Chapel and its conversion to exhibition/performance/meeting space.

The courtyard and listed fountain, which is framed by the above buildings, will be restored as part of the general improvement and regeneration of this area.

Planning permission was also sought for three new buildings at Somerville College, along the wall that the College shares with the site, including two accommodation blocks for 68 students. The third block provides new teaching and library facilities.

The new Somerville buildings and the Ruskin building are being designed by the award-winning Niall McLaughlin Architects.

Linking these proposals together is a 24-hour new east/west link for pedestrians and cyclists, connecting Walton Street with Woodstock Road and available for the public to use.

'We are delighted with the success of this planning application,' architect Niall McLaughlin said. 'It brings a number of significant listed buildings back into public facing use and opens Somerville College out towards the new Radcliffe Observatory Quarter. The proposal includes the restoration of the Triton Fountain Quad in front of the Infirmary and it opens up a new street in Oxford that will link Woodstock Road with Walton Street. We hope that these new public spaces will be a successful addition to this beautiful city.'

Dame Fiona Caldicott, the Principal of Somerville College said: 'It is wonderful news that we have obtained planning permission for this project. The new Somerville buildings will be at the centre of the University, offering first class student facilities. It’s such an important new development for the college, benefiting our students at the same time as helping to secure our financial future. It also means that we will have a magnificent new view of the Radcliffe Observatory from Somerville’s Quad.'