Developing our doorstep
Posted - December 01, 2011
Changes ahead for Jericho
A packed public meeting in November assessed the potential impact of multiple developments on life in Jericho. The inspiration came from the late Paul Cullen of Richmond Road who had been due to explain his concerns at the 2011 AGM of the Jericho Community Association in the Spring. At a special meeting on November 16 his partner Ros Weatherall gave the presentation Paul had prepared.
Ros started by indicating the scale of what lies ahead. The largest development, and currently underway, is the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ). But there are many others that will involve more accommodation. The redevelopment on the corner of Walton Street and Little Clarendon Street will include 41 rooms. In what is now Ruskin College, Exeter College, will be developing a ‘third quadrangle’ which will also include student rooms – though this will only replace those currently at Ruskin. Then there is Grantham House, plus whatever will replace the current health centre. Add to that the Jericho Wharf development and we are likely to see many more people, in the area. Ros says: “I am all for students, but we have to keep a balance.”
One major concern is what is going to happen on Walton Street, with the potential for more delivery trucks, dangers to cyclists, and people crowding the narrow pavements.
One resident said: “I have lived in Walton Street for 20 years and there has been an enormous difference in the way the street works and operates. Often people are spilling out onto the street late at night. I’m surprised there are not more accidents. I’d like to see a completely new plan for Walton Street to make it a safer place.”
Representatives of the various developers also attended the meeting. Commenting on the pressure from users of the ROQ site on facilities in Jericho, the University pointed out that it would have its own catering facilities as part of an ‘integrated facilities management plan’. The site would be open to the public, who might also be able to use its cafeterias.
Exeter announced that architects had just been appointed for their new site and that they were keen to have the views of Jericho residents. And representatives from Somerville suggested that the college developments would help take students out of Jericho houses, though as George Taylor of Great Clarendon Street said: “Every time colleges build more rooms more students seem to come in from elsewhere to fill those in Jericho.”
Residents argued that we now need a ‘neighbourhood plan’ for Jericho that would take into account the movement of people and traffic, creating and preserving public space, and creating opportunities for more community activities.
For Walton Street, for example, this might involve a redesign so that space could be more safely shared between cars, cyclists and pedestrians. More use could be made of the top of Jericho Street where there has occasionally been a street market. Indeed Walton Street itself might sometimes be closed for community events. It is also important to improve the quality of public space, with trees and street-facing gardens.
Jericho also needs to make better use of shared spaces such as that outside the Bookbinders, or those that could be created through the Wharf development. There were concerns that because the school is oversubscribed any further expansion of its buildings would reduce the green space available for after-hours use.
Speeding cars remain a perennial problem. The police explained their technology for monitoring speeds though their system does not result in fines for persistent offenders. To reduce traffic flows we also need better bus services and could make more use of car clubs such as Zipcar.