Higher density development should be permitted on the arterial roads into Oxford, according to architect Adrian James.

Speaking at OxPropSummit Mr James (pictured left) said it need not just district centres that could be  dense but some of the existing arterial roads into the city could take higher rise, more dense schemes.

He told delegates: “They tend to be pretty dismal low rise, low density housing. I would advocate that these are areas where we really should be pushing for policies of higher density.”

Pete Wilder, property director Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE) (pictured fourth from left) said he is acutely aware of the need for more dense development.

But he added: “I think there’s an extra dimension to this which is that, regardless of how many stories you are able to put on a building, Oxford has got to be able to deliver local infrastructure that’s going to satisfy the people that er coming in.

“When you think that in five years’ time there will be millions of square feet occupied by spin out companies in both commercial and residential sectors, how is the infrastructure going to keep up, how is the power grid going to be able to cope with the larger requirements coming in.

“The debate about storeys is very much in our interest to try to push the envelope, acknowledging that Oxford is a very special place and we can’t be ruining the views and impacting on the things that make oxford really special but there are some limitation we need to address as well.”

But Mr James argued that the dreaming spires image obscured the fact that outside the city centre things are different.

He said: “What concerns me is there is this image of Oxford as having a precious skyline but three quarters of oxford is dreary, two-storey suburbs.”

The Headington roundabout is one area, he said, where tall buildings could be accommodated.

He went on: “We could go to four or five storeys on arterial roads. If we could do that we could double the density. People are scared of building high in Oxford because of the dreaming spires.

“We are not going to touch the dreaming spires.”

Here’s the full list of stories from OxPropSummit 2023:







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