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Call for upgrade to Rhodes listing

The Victorian Society has written to English Heritage urging them to upgrade the listing of Basil Champney's Rhodes Building in Oxford. The move has been prompted by plans for major alterations to the 1908 building.


The Victorian Society is warning that plans by Oriel College to make major alterations to the Rhodes Building on Oxford High Street will unnecessarily damage a listed building and irreversibly alter views of Oxford's skyline.

The college wants to build an additional floor to provide accommodation for up to 11 students.

'Oxford's historic roofscape is one of its important characteristics and it is therefore disappointing to see that Oriel College proposes alterations which would harm it', said Kristian Kaminski, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society. 'The college claims that the famous view from St Mary's tower is not impeded, but the view will certainly change.'

Oriel College's own Conservation Plan states that the iconic views of Oxford and its college buildings 'could be damaged by inappropriate intrusions'. Yet it has submitted an application to alter both the windows and the roof height of this historic building. Such a plan is just such an 'inappropriate intrusion' and the Society is urging Oxford City Council to refuse consent.

The Rhodes Building was designed by the architect Basil Champneys in 1908. Its impressive façade has a carefully considered composition of window sizes which give the building depth. Oriel College wants to increase the size of the windows on the ground floor, a move which will harm Champney's original design.

Mr Kaminski added, 'the building is currently listed at Grade-II, but we feel it is worthy of Grade-II* status and have submitted an application to English Heritage for it to be assessed for upgrading.'


Thursday 4 February, 2010

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