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Ruskin College’s move to Headington

From Ruskin to the Rookery

Headington is now the home of Ruskin College, which sold its old site in Walton Street to Exeter College for £7m on 17 March 2010 and moved up in its entirety to the 20-acre Ruskin Hall/Stoke House site in Old Headington (which it has owned since 1948) in September 2012.

Background

The students of Ruskin College were not pleased when they learnt that their college in Oxford would close, and on 27 February 2008 they protested outside Ruskin Hall in Old Headington.

The original Ruskin Masterplan (07/02213/CONSLT) was welcomed by the North East Area Committee meeting on 22 January 2009, but councillors felt that Dunstan Road should remain the main access point to the site rather than Stoke Place.

Although the first of Ruskin’s full planning applications (to build within the walled garden) was approved by the North East Area Committee on 17 June 2008, the idea was subsequently abandoned when the building works were scaled down after an expected grant did not materialize:

  • 07/02867/FUL: Removal of temporary building housing nursery plus other structures within walled gardens. Erection of freestanding dining hall, together with hard and soft landscaping works and ornamental pond.

The city council’s Strategic Development Control Committee approved seven of Ruskin’s next eight planning applications on 21 July 2009:

  • 09/00546/LBD: Listed Building Consent for alterations including demolition of late 19th/ early 20th C. internal servants’ stair, 1960s Tawney Hall (Refectory wing and kitchens) and small-scale rear late 19th/ early 20th C. additions. Alterations and extension on 4 levels for academic block. The Rookery. Formation of new gated pedestrian entrance in south boundary wall of the Walled Garden
    in conjunction with:
    09/00547/FUL: Alterations and extension on 4 levels of The Rookery to provide academic accommodation and ancillary facilities. Associated hard and soft landscaping and cycle parking provision. Erection of smoking canopy, gazebo, fire pit, water tank and engineering operations to create steps and shallow pools/pond, regrading of land and creation of hard surface footpaths within fields to North of site. Formation of new gated pedestrian entrance in south boundary wall of the Walled Garden
  • 09/00548/FUL: Replacement sub-station [Permission extended in July 2012]
  • 09/00633/CAC: Conservation Area Consent for demolition of Bowen Building
    in conjunction with:
    09/00634/FUL: Erection of 4-storey building to provide student accommodation. Cycle parking. Associated hard and soft landscaping (application to extend time limit, submitted in January 2013, is pending: 12/03124/EXT)
  • 09/00635/CAC: Conservation Area Consent for demolition of the Bowerman Building
    in conjunction with:
    09/00636/FUL: Erection of student accommodation on 2 and 3 storeys. Cycle parking. Associated hard and soft landscaping (application to extend time limit, submitted in January 2013. is pending: 12/03123/EXT)

The eighth plan was rejected, but Ruskin subsequently won its appeal against this decision:

  • 09/00549/FUL: Installation of car parking areas to provide 38 car parking spaces

The 2009 plans included the new building (housing the Callaghan Library and teaching area) next to the Rookery. Some buildings (including Bowen House and the Bowerman Building) were scheduled to be demolished and replaced by new accommodation.

In 2010 Ruskin College submitted a ninth planning application relating to the old Rookery building which was approved:

  • 10/00613/LBD: Listed Building Consent. Alterations and extensions involving demolition of internal stairs, refectory wing and kitchens. Erection of academic and ancillary facilities on 4 levels
    in conjunction with
    10/00612/FUL: Alterations and extensions on 4 levels to provide academic accommodation and ancillary facilities

The original scheme had been costed at £38m, but in September 2009 the plans had to be scaled down when Ruskin failed to get £20m from the Learning & Skills Council, and the eventual cost is reported to have been £17m.

Leadbitter started work on the Headington site in the spring of 2010, and on 1 July 2011 Joe Callaghan, grandson of James Callaghan and currently a student at Ruskin, unveiled the foundation stone of the Callaghan Library on 1 July 2011.

Leadbitter restored the reprieved walled garden, and local residents began work on the planting in autumn 2011.

The new building and its library, as well as the walled garden, were officially opened on 28 October 2012.


Press reports (newest first)

Ruskin College website

History of the Rookery (Ruskin Hall)

© Stephanie Jenkins

 

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