Oxford street “like building site”

Residents of a street in West Oxford are furious over building developments that they claim are polluting the environment and creating chaos for both people and traffic.

Mill Street has two major building developments which, locals say, are disrupting everyday life.  One is the redevelopment of the Old Power Station that is being turned into a centre for MBA students, sponsored by Oxford University’s Said Business School.

The other concerns Gibbs Crescent, now demolished, which will be turned into a set of living spaces by charity A2Dominion.  Gibbs Crescent suffered an explosion on Valentine’s Day, 2017.

Gibbs is being re-built by a company called Henry while the Old Power Station’s counterpart is Graham. First names only, it appears, in West Oxford.

A fortnight ago, residents complained about the street being contaminated by red dust and latterly by black dust, attributed to works at Gibbs Crescent where a former railway sidings was discovered. Henry, talking to the community recently, acknowledged the problem and has a team of people with brooms dispelling the dust.

But, today, a new problem emerged when a giant pantechnicon obstructed five or six houses on the west side of Mill Street. A local resident took a video demonstrating how properties were blocked.

Several residents have made observations in the New Osney Whatsapp group.

Susanna Pressel, the local councillor who serves on both Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, said : “I am extremely concerned to hear what has been going on. I have asked council officers to intervene urgently”.

One member of the Whatsapp group said: “I believe that apart from the things raised by a resident on the street, the Council should look into the health and safety of the people on Mill Street as well as the safety of our cars and buildings.  I am not an expert but I believe that the video above clearly shows that the properties on the street were at serious risk of damage today.  

“The regulations clearly state that when unloading the boom on a public road, extra precautions need to be taken such as the use of warning cones, hazard tape, signs, flag personnel etc. as well as avoiding nearby buildings when possible. I believe that the lorry and the boom where way too close to the houses, and any small error done by the operator would end with a huge disaster.”

Another observed: “I’ve just noticed that a crack has appeared in the road running right down the section of Mill St from The Porterhouse to Botley road. This is not a good sign and suggest that one of the services underneath (water gas or sewage) is at risk. This section is getting the heavy plant traffic from both building sites, which also seem to be of an entirely greater scale in terms of size and weight compared to previous constructions in the area.

“There has to be some way to limit the weight of these vehicles when construction is in Victorian streets. If not, the cost of future repairs is going to be astronomical. eg a new sewer main would cost millions.”

Another resident said: “There are also gas supply caps located on that pavement outside each and every house. What happens if one of these massive articulated lorries hits one of those? As a matter of urgency, can the council now suspend all building works to investigate? Can the council put up barriers down the whole street along the pavement area on the west side to protect us?”

Residents met with the community spokesperson of the Gibbs Crescent development last Friday and he has not had conversations with the community rep of the Old Power Station as yet.

On Monday, parking will be suspended on Mill Street as Graham initiates further disruption.

The Oxford Inquirer understands that there may be a public protest against the disruption on Monday morning. ψ