Friends of Old Headington

People who care for the Old Headington Conservation Area in Oxford


Ruskin Fields

Update September 2012

The public enquiry began in July 2012 and largely took the form of a debate at which Zoe Traill and Veronica Hurst participated, speaking on behalf of the Friends. There have been several articles in the Oxford Times recording the reaction of the County Council to the City's proposal to reduce the speed limit on the A40 to 40 mph and turn it into a 'boulevard' - [1], [2]

In August a Friends' email asking people to respond to the current consultation was sent, and is reproduced here; If you currently do not receive these emails please contact if you wish to be added to the mailing list.

At present we've reached the stage where a new consultation soliciting comments on the modifications made (at the Examining Inspector's request) by the Council has just closed (on 7 September). The responses submitted by the Committee to the three documents being consulted on can be viewed here :

FOH comments concerning the Main Modifications to the Barton Area Action Plan (CD 7.22)

FOH comments concerning the Addendum to the Barton Sustainability Appraisal (CD 7.23)

FOH comments concerning the Addendum to the Sites & Housing Sustainability Appraisal (CD 8.15)

All the responses will be put on the Council's website soon, since the Sites and Housing hearing begins next week; the Ruskin Fields question is due to be debated on 21st September, and the hearing on the modifications to the A40 proposals are scheduled for the 24th September.

The Friends will be represented by Zoe Traill and Sarah King.

Thames Water

A recent issue which has arisen is Thames Water's reluctance to consent to any further development in the northern end of Old Headington without reassessment and repair to the existing waste water network (Oxford Times [1], [2] ), and this seems likely to affect the outcome of the enquiry.

February 2012

There was a Full Council Meeting on December 19th 2011 at which Council officers put forward their recommendations for the development west of Barton, following the earlier consultation and discussion during the summer. The proposed development of the Ruskin fields was not included in the draft submission for the Barton Area Action Plan, nor in the Sites and Housing DPD. During December Council officers explained to Councilors their decision to omit it, and prior to the meeting on the 19th the Labour Group voted to support that decision when the draft submission was debated in Full Council.

At the meeting Veronica Hurst spoke on behalf of the Friends in support of the dropping of the Ruskin proposals, and Audrey Mullender spoke on behalf of Ruskin College urging Councilors to ask for an amendment putting them back in.

There was, in fact, an amendment to that effect, moved by Stuart Craft (Independent Working Class Association) and seconded by David Williams, leader of the Green Party (who represents the area around Iffley Fields). Stuart's argument was on the basis of the need for housing in any space available, while the Green leader quoted Prof. Mullender’s dismissive 'two soggy fields' and agreed to second the amendment despite claiming to be in two minds about the proposal.

The amendment was overwhelmingly defeated and the Ruskin fields have therefore been excluded from the development proposals going forward in the Draft Submission.

However, Ruskin may choose at the next stage of the process to press for their site to be included by the Inspector.

The Ruskin Fields Group continue to be vigilant; the six-week consultation on the next stage of the Barton development runs until March 23rd, and we are keen to learn what Ruskin's intentions may be. The RFG will be submitting comments supporting the Council's decision to omit their development proposals from the Draft Submission document and the Sites and Housing DPD.