Friday, 26 April 2013

The Mock Planning Inquiry 2013

Students taking the MSc Real Estate Management and the MSc International Real Estate took part in a Mock Planning Inquiry last week as part of the module on Planning & Development. Dr Mike Stubbs set up the 2013 Mock Planning Inquiry (MPI) which took place on Friday 19 April in the stately surroundings of Headington Hill Hall. For more information about planning inquiries and how they operate take at look at these guidelines from the Planning Inspectorate.

The MSc students divided into three groups to prepare their evidence and decide who would represent the group in the MPI:
  • The Local Planning Authority (the Defendant)
  • The Developer (the Appellant)
  • The Expert Witness
The students were joined by three guest lecturers: two barristers from Francis Taylor Building in Inner Temple (specialists in planning law) and a local planning inspector. The guest lecturers took on the roles of Planning Inspector, Counsel for the Defence and Counsel for the Appellant. The Planning Inspector chaired the Inquiry.

The Planning Inspector heard evidence from the three parties. There was some heated questioning about the design, use and location of the building and some very specific questions concerning the requirements for new student accommodation as laid out in the Oxford Local Plan. I tried to capture the very real atmosphere in the following photos. Difficult - you had to be there to feel the full force of the questioning and see the eloquent way in which the students responded.

Counsel for the Defence

Throwing a few questions at the Appellant 

...and a few more!

The subject of the appeal was the proposed redevelopment of 220-222 Cowley Road, a site in East Oxford which is located in the main shopping street and leisure district for that area. East Oxford is a popular residential area characterised by Victorian terraces as well as more modern buildings, cafes and shops. The site currently consists of a terrace of two buildings with a two storey extension to the rear. The proposed redevelopment would provide new shops, offices and 18 student study bedrooms in 4 self-contained flats and would substantially increase the available space.

Before the proposed redevelopment...

...and after.

The Planning Inspector concluded events by summing up and explaining what would happen next in 'real life'. This was followed by lunch and an opportunity to chat informally about what the students had learned from their experiences in the MPI.

Interested in finding out more? Try the following links:

The National Planning Policy Framework (published in March 2012)
Oxford Local Plan 2001-2016
Oxford Core Strategy

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