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Stone Circle at EF International Language School, Pullen's Lane (2013)


EF stone circle

“The Stone Circle” designed by Lois Muddiman is a circular stone seating area, three metres in diameter made of Portland Stone with engraved Cuneiform texts. She described the concept design as follows:

The concept for the idea comes from the EF mission statement, “breaking down barriers in language, culture and geography”. A seating area will encourage students to sit and chat together whilst the engravings will demonstrate the similarities between the earliest form of written language, cuneiform from 3,000 BC, and contemporary text symbols. Both are forms of written language, based on pictures and symbols and can be easily understood by all.

Public art (“in the interests of the amenity of the area and the Headington Hill Conservation Area”) was a condition of EF's planning permission granted in 2008 to erect new buildings, but the sculpture did not materialize until 2013.


Planning history of this piece of public art

In January 2008 the following planning application by EF International was approved: “Partial demolition of Isis Building. Erection of new entrance, lecture theatre building, student accommodation building, central link building incorporating new corner link building (amendment to planning permission 00/02194/NFH) and upgrade to existing building elevations” (07/02499/FUL). Clause 9 of this permission, however, stated:

Notwithstanding Condition 2, the public art shown on the submitted plans is not approved. Prior to commencement of development, details of alternative proposed public art to be installed on the site shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning authority.

In 2011 EF International submitted “Application to vary condition No. 9 of planning permission 07/02499/FUL, deleting the requirement to provide public art.”, but it was refused (11/00034/VAR) on the following grounds:

The permission to which the current application relates was one of three granted at the applicant's Pullens Lane site in 2007 and 2008 which cumulatively gave rise to a requirement for public art in accordance with policy CP14 of the adopted Oxford Local Plan and accompanying Planning Obligations Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). These developments have an impact on the surrounding area within the Headington Hill Conservation Area, and a scheme of public art would enhance the developments and the Conservation area within which they stand. The proposal to delete the requirement for public art would therefore be contrary to Policy CP14 of the adopted Oxford Local Plan 2001–2016.

The development, which began on 9 May 2011, was completed on 31 May 2012.

In April 2013 EF was granted permission for “Variation of condition 9 (public art) of planning permission 07/02499/FUL to allow discharge of condition post commencement of development” (13/00284/VAR). The supporting information contained in the documents is a full description by Lois Muddiman of her proposed stone circle. The piece of art, however, was not approved:

Notwithstanding Condition 2 of 07/02499/FUL and condition 1 above, the public art shown on the submitted plans is not approved. Details of alternative proposed public art to be installed on the site shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority within 12 months of occupation of the building.

In May 2013 EF resubmitted their plan for this piece of public art, stating that they had “officer support for design concept information submitted in respect of public art & confirmation that this information was sufficient to discharge planning condition”, and it was finally approved (13/00284/CND)


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© Stephanie Jenkins

 

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