Those of you who already attended our Ward Focus Meeting have already raised this issue with us, but here is the update again
We know that like us you have been very concerned about the state of 29, Old High Street. At nearly all meetings in Old and New Headington that we have been attended in recent years, we have been asked about what’s happening. We have given updates at those meetings and now we want to let you know the latest developments.
We have been as frustrated as anyone at the slow pace this issue has taken but we should also pay credit to City Council officers who have worked hard to use the legal routes possible to get some action — but those legal routes are notoriously slow. The basic situation is that the house is privately owned. It is up to an owner how they deal with the property, of course, but in this case its decline is having a sad impact on the public realm and on the Conservation Area. So, the Council has repeatedly been in contact with the owner, urging fairly modest improvements to be done. As they were not done, there had to be recourse to law and an injunction requiring the works to be carried out was given by the courts. The owner appealed and lost that appeal. The owner then had a six month period in which to carry out the works but they have not taken place. To take this further, the City Council now has an option to take the owner to court for non-compliance.
A planning application for an extension to the existing building is expected but has not yet been validated by the Planning Department. It is too early to say what the officers’ recommendations will be on any valid new application. In the meantime, the owner still has the duty to carry out improvements outstanding.
As you can tell, this is a long, involved and sensitive issue. We have at all times worked with the Council to ensure that what was an attractive house can be brought back into use. The Council has, rightly, been concerned to follow the law to the letter. It is taking a long, long time but we can anticipate some progress in the near future. And it won’t be a moment too early!