Wolvercote residents campaign against St. John’s College Oxford North development

first_imgAn Area Action Plan was then subsequently launched by the Council in 2015, which insisted “the development of the Northern Gateway offers the opportunity for existing and new firms to relocate, and to ensure that Oxford’s economy continues to grow for the benefit of the City and as a vital component in the growth of Oxfordshire more widely.” Thomas White Oxford and St. John’s College, in a joint statement in the build-up to the protest on 19 March 2021, defended their “proposals, [which] realise the vision… for Oxford North to [become] a new district for the city.”  In the College’s response to the protester’s manifesto, they stated that “any of the concerns raised by the Wolvercote group have been addressed during the lengthy processes of public consultation and public examination that have taken place in relation to this proposal over the last decade.” Wolvercote residents led an hour-long socially-distanced protest outside St. John’s College on Friday to show their displeasure with the college’s plans to redevelop the greenfield land which it holds in North Oxford. Attendees placed placards outside the College’s main entrance on St. Giles’ and stood to chat to passers-by about their goals. The Oxford North project, overseen by the College’s Thomas White Oxford company, took its first steps in 2007 when the ‘Northern Gateway’ site was proposed by Oxford City Council in its ‘Emerging Core’ strategy and adopted in 2011. 23/3/21, 21:24 – this article was edited to replace ‘green-belt’ with ‘greenfield’ In response, Thomas White Oxford pointed towards the project’s “site-wide ecology strategy that seeks to draw together the planting strategy with the Sustainable Drainage Strategy (SuDS).” This includes planting new hedgerow, creating further habitat and biodiversity opportunities to support the native birds, bats, and insects, and retaining broad-leaved trees.  Peaker’s belief has been reinforced through her communication with the College: her first letter, with over 200 signatories, was responded to by the developer, rather than the College directly. Though a second letter was sent and responded to by former John’s bursar Andrew Parker, residents resorted to protest as they believed this was the only method that would enact meaningful change.  This vision is not shared by local residents of Wolvercote, which directly borders the proposed development. Cherwell spoke to the leader of the protest group, Carol Peaker, at the protest on Friday. Peaker previously lectured in the Department for Continuing Education at Oxford. She noted “the community has been fighting Oxford North for years”, but that their cause had gained more urgency and timeliness during the pandemic. “ The world has changed… Oxford is going to be full of empty office and retail space, people are working from home.”   Peaker called for St. John’s students to join “what is…a real seismic change in thinking around development. We live on an island with a finite amount of incredibly precious green space – we have to stop building on it, because development cannot go on forever without imperilling our future… We need trees much more than buildings, more than unnecessary office space. I would like St John’s College students to tell their college how they feel and to understand it, viscerally.”  “The community is devastated at the moment, because they said that they were going to do some vegetation clearage. They proceeded to dig up quite a number of ancient hedgerows and to completely destroy a nature walk that has been loved by the neighbourhood for generations” She observed that traffic noise from the A34 and A40 has worsened as a result, and that “we’d like [the hedgerows] replanted.”  center_img When asked whether she thought that her protest would be successful, Peaker responded “I intend [it] to be”. A response to the protest has been issued, and St. John’s has emphasised its commitment to biodiversity and to creating green spaces alongside the redevelopment of its lands.  Peaker disagreed: “I think people felt during consultations that they were just making lip service to consultations. When I talked to people in Wolvercote, the feeling is this sense of despair and powerlessness, against the might and wealth of St John’s College. They were just going to greenwash everything and run roughshod.”  This is received more cynically by Peaker. “What they’re saying about the parks and things like that, if you look at the plan, most of the proposed ‘parkland’ is right beside the A34 – not really not the place where you want to take your kids to because it’s thunderous [with traffic].”  The central concern for the protesters is the destruction of the greenfield land. Nonetheless, the college stresses that their proposal will create “three new public parks totalling 23 acres and planting 1,000 new trees”.  A right of response has been provided to St. John’s College. Image Credit: Top, Carol Peaker, In-line, Cherwell News The College has started enacting its plans, cutting down “historic” hedgerows as part of licenses given by Oxford City Council. Despite these cuttings being used as biomass fuel, as noted on the Oxford North website, this proved to be a point of consternation for Peaker: last_img read more

Mystery over death of bar employee

first_imgKolkata: Mystery surrounds the death of an employee of a bar-cum-restaurant at Chandni Chowk on Tuesday night.Two of his colleagues took his body to the deceased’s home in Baranagar area and tried to hand it over to his family and leave. However, locals detained both of them and handed them over to the police. According to sources, on Tuesday a singer of the bar identified as Debasish Das (48), was found lying unconscious inside the washroom. As per the claim of his colleagues, they took Das to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: Mamata(CMCH), where he was declared dead. However, questions arose over the fact that if Das was declared brought dead, the police outpost of CMCH was supposed to be informed and his body would have been sent for autopsy examination. How his colleagues were able to take his body to his home in Baranagar was not clear either. The family members of Das stated that on Tuesday night, two of his colleagues took his body to Baranagar and told his family that he had died. But they did not tell them how it had happened. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateWhen his family members questioned them about what had happened, they reportedly tried to flee. But hearing the family members shout for help, locals detained the duo. On Tuesday night, Baranagar police station was informed and later police recovered the body and sent it for autopsy examination. His family members lodged a complaint at the police station but no murder case has been initiated till Wednesday. “An Unnatural Death (UD) case has been started. Probe is on,” said Ananda Roy, Deputy Commissioner (DC), Zone II, Belgharia, Barrackpore City Police. Sources informed that Barrackpore police station has got in touch with Bowbazar police station for obtaining information regarding the incident. However, DC, Central of Kolkata Police Nilakantam Sudheer Kumar said: “No case lodged here. We are not probing the case.” No one has been arrested in the case till Wednesday and police are waiting for the autopsy report to identify the exact cause of death. According to police, as per primary opinion of the autopsy surgeon, food particles were found inside his trachea. It is suspected that he died due to choking from the same.last_img read more