‘Museum plan needs rethink’

Michael Farley, second right, with neighbours outside the site of the new museum

Michael Farley, second right, with neighbours outside the site of the new museum

First published in News Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

MUSEUM bosses have been urged to go back to the drawing board with plans for a new building in Woodstock before it is too late.

Work on the new £3m Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in the grounds of the Oxfordshire Museum started earlier this year after Oxfordshire County Council approved planning permission and agreed to lease its land.

The designs were opposed by West Oxfordshire District Council, Woodstock Town Council and English Heritage, but were given the go-ahead in November 2010.

Now residents, who say they are shocked at the size and scale of the two-storey building, have mounted a last-ditch attempt to stop development.

Neighbour and Woodstock Conservation Area Action Group activist Michael Farley said: “We would like them to reconsider the building as it’s planned.

“It’s the second floor we object to, it rises several metres above the museum wall. Until the building work started, we were unaware that it was going to be this big.”

He said the building would have “serious repercussions” on both the conservation area and surrounding homes.

He said: “At a height of at least a four-storey house it will tower over the listed wall, surrounding lanes and listed buildings, some dating back to the 17th century.

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“The central problem here is a development that we consider should never have been granted consent and that we think would not have been allowed by a private developer.”

When consulted about the plans in 2010, West Oxfordshire District Council “strongly objected” on the grounds the design was “inappropriate”, parts of it were “too stark in context” and that “the first floor massing is bulky and out of scale with the urban grain”.

But the proposals were still approved by the county council, which is responsible for certain planning bids, such as those for schools, museums and libraries.

Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “The Soldiers of Oxfordshire applied for planning permission for their development which is on land leased to them by the county council.

“The county council followed the normal procedures for processing the application and carried out consultation which included writing to residents, advertising in the local media and putting up site notices.

“We have received a letter from the Woodstock Conservation Area Action Group relating to planning and building and will be responding to the points they raise.”

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