In a report to councillors ahead of a planning committee meeting next week, principal planner Sarah de la Coze recommended approval for the Stirling Prize-winning practice’s proposals for the site next to the Grade II-listed Gee’s Restaurant in Banbury Road.

Níall McLaughlin Architects submitted an application last year to develop the plot in north Oxford to create student digs, a mixed-use pavilion and a departmental building for the newly created South-east Asian Studies Centre (SASC).

The scheme, for the University of Oxford and Hertford College, is less than half a mile away from the practice’s Univ North project – an expansion of University College Oxford.

The latest proposals are to convert a detached villa on Banbury Road from academic to residential use, as well as constructing six new blocks.

The pavilion would feature a reading room, recreation room and common room, while a new academic building for SASC would provide teaching and study spaces alongside support facilities.

Historic England said the proposals would cause ‘a modest degree of harm’ to the setting of Gee’s Restaurant, ‘eroding the historical villa garden setting and replacing it with built form’. Although this harm would be less than substantial, it said ‘considerable weight’ should be given to conserving heritage assets.

The Victorian Society objected to the scheme, citing harm to the significance of the North Oxford Victorian Suburb Conservation Area. And local group the Victorian Group of the Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society went further, describing the proposals as ‘grotesque overdevelopment’ and ‘destructive desecration’.

But planning officers concluded that the project’s benefits would outweigh any harm and said there was a ‘significant material consideration in favour of the proposal’ as it conformed with the ‘overall aims and objectives’ of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Niall McLaughlin Architects claimed the 2022 RIBA Stirling Prize with its ‘sophisticated’ new library at Cambridge’s Magdalene College.

Architect’s view

The client, Hertford College and the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, Kellogg College and Reuben College have come together to form a collaborative effort to create a vibrant academic community of residential and student facilities that will benefit graduates, staff and wider community.

The proposed development includes six new graduate accommodation blocks and will convert the existing villas on 43-45 Banbury Road in to student rooms. There are also plans for a number of shared use and social areas within the Hertford College Pavilion and new departmental structures for the South-east Asian Studies Centre. The buildings proposed will be surrounded by a series of re-energized garden spaces, designed by Kim Wilkie.

The project is a rare opportunity to enhance the provision on the site with a scheme that is heavily inspired and enriched by the neighbouring North Oxford Victorian Suburb Conservation Area’s residential context. The proposed development gives the colleges the opportunity to unify diverse buildings and functions with the implementation of a landscaping-led scheme.

The proposals present a unique opportunity to bring together a diverse set of buildings with a wide range of functions.

The buildings are arranged on the site in a way that is sympathetic to the size and characteristics of the context, which includes tall brick villas with mature trees. The proposed blocks have been carefully placed to frame these assets in a manner that continues the historic concept of ‘villas and gardens’, with each accommodation building positioned behind a pair of existing villas.

The scale and placement of buildings along street frontages refers to the rhythms of the villas in the neighborhood. They are oriented with the street and their footprints finish the perimeter while providing visual connections to the centre through gaps.

The proposal seeks to retain the majority of the site’s large mature specimen trees, and enhance their setting. This will be achieved by removing low-quality plantings and creating new landscapes. The interior of the block is a lush green space, created by a series garden courts, squares and lawns. New trees and buildings can be arranged around these spaces.

The program also influences the placement of buildings within site boundaries to establish key adjacencies. Academic uses are located in the southern part of the site and close to the existing Faculty buildings along Bevington Rd.

Hertford College Pavilion common area, early sketch

Project data

Location Oxford
Local authorities Oxford City Council
Type of Project Students’ accommodation, study and social space, academic building
Clients can also contact us at Oxford University Hertford College
Architect Níall McLaughlin Architects
Landscape architect Kim Wilkie
Planning consultant Carter Jonas
Structural engineer Smith & Wallwork
M&E consultant Max Fordham
Sustainability consultant Max Fordham
Quantity surveyor Gleeds
Project Manager CPC Project Services
Heritage Consultant Donald Insall Associates
Principal designer Bureau Veritas
Gross internal floor area 12,250m²
Contractual and/or procurement forms You will be able to confirm
Annual CO2 The following are examples of emissions Confirmation
Total cost Confirmation

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