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Univ North: biodiversity & sustainability

Univ NorthThe plans for University College, North Oxford have deliberately been developed with biodiversity, sustainability, and the surrounding human and natural environment, all in mind.

The development will result in seven new 3-storey buildings, internal and external alterations to Fairfield House and Garden House, demolition of the more recent extensions to Redcliffe-Maud House, new footpaths and pedestrian access from Banbury Road, alongside comprehensive landscaping and tree planting.

The buildings have been designed to be as energy efficient as possible, reducing carbon emissions and protecting the climate for the future. A multi-faceted approach has been taken to ensure this, including:

• A fabric-first design with high levels of insulation, inherent sealing, and draught exclusion
• High-quality windows with generous opening for good natural light and ventilation
• Glazing areas considered to avoid overhearing
• Air source heat pump for hot water
• Heat recovery ventilation for fresh air
• Cross-laminated Timber (CLT) for construction, rather than high-carbon concrete or steel

Through consultation with the council, stakeholders, and local residents, we have designed our buildings to reflect and complement local architectural heritage. We will be retaining the Edwardian and Victorian elements of the site, whilst replacing the more modern elements with new and better-designed buildings. Our two pavilions will be made entirely from sustainably sourced timber, with basements allowing for natural ventilation. Through a variety of architectural, technological, and design innovations, we have also reduced the proposal’s carbon emissions by 40%.

Univ North PlansThe scheme has been designed from the ground up to preserve and enhance local wildlife and biodiversity. All significant and high-quality trees across the site will be retained. The proposal seeks to minimise tree loss with substantial re-planting to conserve and enhance the character of the site as a “leafy garden suburb”. Indeed, through the preservation of trees and the planting of new ones, we will improve canopy cover by up to 30% on the site over time. Largely native species, the mix of new trees will augment the abundance of associated fauna that the site will be able to support while concurrently enriching the aesthetic qualities of the site in support of the North Oxford Conservation Area.

New garden spaces, wildflower meadow planting, a green roof on part of the nursery, and a new traditional orchard will help to deliver a 16.77% increase in biodiversity, far above policy requirements. We will also be introducing beehives in the orchards, integrated bird and bat boxes, bird and bat bricks, bat tiles, and hedgehog houses, discreetly placed where they will not be disturbed. Once built, these green spaces will be maintained by the College’s Head of Grounds Maintenance and the grounds team. To tie Univ North to the main site, the College is also looking to purchase an electric service van to run between the High Street and north Oxford.

Published: 3 July 2020

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