Oxfordshire: Chinese university plans referred to government

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A leading Chinese university’s plan to revamp its UK campus has been approved, but the government will likely have the final say.

Peking University HSBC Business School (PHBS) bought Foxcombe Hall in Boars Hill, Oxford, in 2017.

Despite hundreds of objections planning permission was granted for a change of use to the green belt site on Wednesday.

The Grade II listed building was previously used by the Open University.

Permission was granted by the Vale of White Horse District Council to change the site’s use from a non-residential education site to a residential one and for extensive building changes.

The decision will be referred up to the Secretary of State for the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities, Simon Clarke.

The campus

A total of 303 residents opposed the revamp. Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran was also an objector.

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Changes will include building 60 student bedrooms, a dining hall, a campus cafe and shop, gym and an extension to a lecture theatre. A laboratory building will be demolished.

Parish councillors in Wootton said they were worried about the potential population growth of up to 25% in the village because of the school.

They also said their view of Oxford’s historic spires about four miles away (6.4km) would be damaged.

As part of the planning permission, councils will also provide a shuttlebus service between the site and Redbridge Park and Ride in Oxford.

The university will also need to ensure that students do not own or bring cars to the site or park near it.

Times Higher Education ranks Peking University the 16th best in the world.

In 2015, the Open University announced it would close seven regional centres, including its Oxfordshire base.

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