More restaurants/bars on George Street – what about the bins?

I’ve noticed this week that another two planning applications for change to so-called A3 use have been made for George Street in the City Centre.  Some will oppose more bars/restaurants completely but I feel that the balanced view across my constituents is that restaurants/cafés are better than emtpy units so long as they do not contribute to late night drunkeness and/or noise and safety nuisance.  As these things can be controlled by licensing policy I think there is no reason to oppose the planning applications outright.


One thing that is a worry is that this sort of use generates a lot of waste and lots of that is food waste.  This can be a real problem if it is left out on the street for hours or even days as it often is.  Large bins look awful and obstruct the street and food waste can attract vermin and smell bad in warmer weather.

The two planning applications are:

14/01050/FUL for 6-12 George Street:
Change of use of ground floor and basement from Shop (Use Class A1) to Restaurants and Cafés (Use Class A3)


14/01091/FUL for 25-27 George Street
Change of use of ground floor from Use Class A2 (Financial and Professional Services) to Use Class A3 (Restaurants and cafés).

You can click either to see the detail.  I have made identical comments on both:

Commenter Type: Ward Councillor
Stance: Customer made comments neither objecting to or supporting the Planning Application
Reasons for comment: – Effect on pollution
– Information missing from plans
– Other – give details
Comments: In principle it is good to see units being put into use on George Street and I have no objection to Cafés/Restaurants. If permission is granted, I request that a rigorous and enforceable condition is included requiring the operators of the A3 use to store waste/bins on the premises at all times except immediately before and after waste collection. I request that the condition is precise as possible (as required by Government guidance on conditions) so that it is enforceable and effective.

Do feel free to do the same yourself or comment differently if you prefer.  Neither deadline has passed as I write this.

Another shop loss on George Street – but good news on bins!

jessopsToday I spotted a planning application for a change of use of basement and ground floor from a retail unit (Use class A1) to a restaurant (Use class A3) at 63 George Street.  That’s the now-closed Jessops shop.  I was worried about the loss of another retail unit and the addition of yet another food outlet/bar (that’s what A3 is) so asked the planning officer about it.  He explained that the council has to assess any against its own retail policies in the Local Plan depending on the number of retail units left within the street and how this affects these policy thresholds.

A couple of days later the planning officer came back to me and explained that  he had reviewed the proportion of non-A1 (retail) uses within the secondary shopping frontage of the city centre (within which the site is located – in line with policy RC5 of the Local Plan). The proportion of A1 uses at ground floor level taking account of the change of proposed would equate to 51% (as based on January 2013 surveys by the Council). The policy minimum threshold for retail units is set at 50%. Consequently the proposal would not be contrary to the Council’s town centre/retail policies.

In English that means the retail units proportions policy does not give planning ground to refuse the application and so it would probably be granted.  I have to accept that really.  The only other thing I would like to see is a condition about is where the proposed A3 user will store waste.  There is a growing problem of large industrial waste bins being left out all over the city centre’s pavements and I really don’t want this unit to be another that does that.  I’ve asked it if can be conditioned that all waste must be stored onsite unless it is out for collection, say within the next two hours.  There are currently too many A3 users that area leaving pavements looking awful all week and I really don’t want that to get worse – All Bar One and the bins all over Alfred Street is a an example of this poor practice as are some of the A3 units on Gloucester Green.

To my delight, the planning officer said it would be entirely possible to write such a condition into the permission  requiring any future A3 user to store waste/bins on the premises at all times except immediately before and after waste collection. He said he would look at ways of making the condition as precise as possible (as required by Government guidance on conditions) so that it is enforceable if necessary and even went as far as to say he had circulated my concerns to all officers within the development control team for them to bear in mind when assessing such applications.  I am extremely impressed!


Amazing work from City Works again!

Some of you will be aware that I worship at St. Columba’s United Reformed Church on Sundays. This morning, those that arrived a bit early (around 10am) found most of the recycling bins (that I think belong to All Bar One) emptied all over Alfred Street so there was masses of rubbish and broken glass everywhere. Too much certainly to drive over. This was a big problem as we were due a visit from the Churches together in Central Oxford ecumenical donkey at 10.45am.  What you see in the picture is almost the end of the clean-up.  It was FAR worse than that.

One of our elders phones City Works and I was hugely impressed at how quickly they got there and what a great job they did of clearing up.  These guys really are  a credit to our City.  Thank you!

I do wonder why it is places like All Bar One are allowed to leave so many recycling containers all over the street on Saturday night into Sunday though.  They are incredibly ugly and I don’t think commercial collections happen on Sundays anyway.

St John Street Area Residents Association

I attended 20102010987.jpga good meeting at Rewley House in the Lecture Theatre this evening.  It was organised by Jonathan Brown, the chair of the association.  I was pleased to see such a well organised association and such a well-attended meeting.  There must have been about 30 there.  Cllr. Alan Armitage was there as he is a County Councillor for the area and local Police Community Support Officers also attended.

I was disappointed to hear that the  problems with the bins behind the Ashmolean Museum have not bee resolved despite the efforts of committee members Margaret Booth (Treasurer) and John Temple (Secretary).  We’ll see what we can do about that.

One St. John Street resident Jonathan Michie, Director of the Department for Continuing Education and Professor of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange at Oxford University gave a couple of interesting talks: ‘CONTINUING EDUCATION AT OXFORD’ followed by ‘THE CREDIT CRUNCH AND ITS AFTERMATH’.  Jonathan is also a former Director of the Birmingham Business School.  I think doing this sort of thing is an excellent way to increase attendance at such meetings.

The evening was nicely rounded off by drinks and nibbles in the Mawby Pavilion, also at Rewley House, where I had fascinating conversations with several extremely interesting people including Prof. Clive Booth, a past vice-chancellor of Oxford Polytechnic and Oxford Brookes University.

It was good to see one student resident of St. John Street at the meeting but would have been better to see even more.  It can be difficult getting people to feel enough part of a community to go to such events when they will probably only resident for a year but I think it’s still important.  If you’re a student reading this I encourage you to engage with your local community and take part in such events. I bet you’ll be surprised at the welcome you receive!

Social Landlord tenancy and the problems it brings

A small piece of casework today.  A resident of some social housing in Carfax rang to say his area’s glass recycling bin is full and that when he rings City Works to arrange a collection he gets told that they need to check if the Registered Social Landlord (OCHA in this case) has paid for the service.  Then nothing happens.

Glass recycling

This would not happen if the City Council owned and managed all the council housing in Oxford City.  And to think the Labour Group was trying to hand it all off to registered social landlords not so long ago.  The problem is there is no accountability – at least Council Housing tenants have councillors to hold their landlord to account.