University development may be put on hold

Construction of Oxford’s new Radcliffe Observatory Quarter could face “considerable delays” because of the University’s dire financial situation.

In fiscal year 2008, the University made a profit of £10.5 million, but with public sector cuts imminent, the University has conceded expenditure will need to fall.  This leaves the Radcliffe Quarter, a £160 million development, on uncertain ground.

A spokesperson for the English faculty said: “Given the University and the Division’s financial situation, there is likely to be some considerable delay before building on the site can be commenced.”

A University spokesperson said the earliest construction could begin is 2011.

The development, the biggest the University has seen in more than a century, will centralise the new Maths and Humanities faculties on one site.

A university spokesperson said: “The [Quarter] will offer students and Faculty members exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary work and integrated libraries, with state-of-the-art lecture rooms, classrooms, and study spaces.”

Students seem to agree improvements are required.

Navjote Singh Sachdev, a 1st year PPEist, said: “A bigger library’s definitely needed and better facilities are necessary to ensure that the Oxford philosophy department remains one of the best in the world.”

The Maths faculty is currently situated on three different sites and is in particular need of centralisation and modernisation.

Tom Hosking, a physicist who had lectures in the Maths department, said the building “was in need of loving”.

“The maths one was definitely worse than any lecture rooms I’ve used in physics. It had crap acoustics – I had to sit in the front half to hear anything,” he said.

The humanities faculty will include the English, History, Theology and Philosophy faculties.
Jahan Meeran, a historian at Corpus, didn’t see a problem with the new devlopment replacing older historic buildings.

“Oxford has many buildings from centuries gone by and it seems only logical that the Oxford University we know currently leaves its mark for future generations,” he said.

The ROQ is on a 10-acre site in Jericho, bound by Woodstock Road and Walton Street.

The Chair of the ROQ Board, Professor Anthony Monaco, said: “The fantastic designs by both architects provide new avenues through the site, exciting gardens and squares, all with views of the Radcliffe Observatory.”



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