Osney Power Station FAQs
Q1 Who owns the Old Power Station building?
The University of Oxford owns the building.
The current proposal is that Saïd Business School might lease the building from the University to help meet its requirements for more teaching space.
Q2 Why couldn’t the building continue as it is?
The OPS is currently under-utlized and has been for some time. Some space is used for museum storage but much of the building is not currently in use. Buildings benefit from full use, or otherwise run the risk of deterioration.
The University has been keen to find a suitable long-term use for the building. It is not economically feasible for buildings to stand empty and the costs of maintenance for a historical building such as this are not inconsiderable.
We think the proposed use by Saïd Business School of the Old Power Station will be highly appropriate and will be an asset to the built landscape in Oxford – serving to preserve an important site, and to ensure its long term future.
Q3 Why does Oxford Saïd need more space ?
We are delighted by how the School is establishing itself as a leading place of business education worldwide. The School continues to be successful and is growing to position itself as one of the leading business schools in the world. We therefore need more space for teaching and to accommodate our faculty, students, senior executive course participants and administrative staff, whose numbers are also increasing – creating more jobs locally.
We are delighted that the University has allocated the Old Power Station building to the Business School so that a new productive use for it has been found, and that its future is secured.
We are also pleased to be contributing to the physical and economic rejuvenation of this part of town.
Q4 What will happen there?
The building will be a residential teaching centre – part of Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.
It will provide further teaching space for our post graduate and executive business participants, particularly those joining us for short executive education programmes.
It will have catering and facilities for that group and some high quality residential rooms for those who need to stay overnight.
Q5 Why has this site been chosen?
This site is owned already by the University.
The University was looking for a new economically viable use for the site which would allow it to be restored and maintained over the long term.
The School is looking for additional accommodation as the business grows to provide space for additional residential teaching for executives.
This site is very close to the Saïd Business School so it makes good sense for the University to allocate this building to the Business School.
At this stage we have yet to conduct full feasibility studies, but we are hopeful that the building will meet our space requirements for residential teaching.
We are letting you know our plans at this very early stage in the interests of open communication, even though very little has yet been determined.
This will be an attractive development, fitting for a major building relating to Oxford’s industrial heritage. The University has a strong track record of sensitive, award-winning restorations of historically important buildings, such as the Radcliffe Humanities building, Sheldonian Theatre and Ashmolean Museum.
Q 6 Why is the business school having this building when the University could put it to more appropriate use for the community?
All of the University’s buildings have to be economically viable. A building of this age is expensive to maintain and it is now in need of further investment after a period of reduced usage. This building had been under-utilised for some time, and it was not immediately clear what sort of sustainable future it might have had within the University’s property portfolio.
We are delighted that the needs of the Business School for further residential teaching capacity seem to closely fit what the building can offer, and present an opportunity to bring the building back into full use, whilst preserving it from possible future decay, and retaining its historical and architecturally important features for future users to enjoy.
Q7 Some parts of the community have suggested the site should be used for affordable housing. Why is this not being considered?
The University already owns the building and wants its buildings to be fully utilised to meet the needs of the University community – in this case the professionals who come to Saïd Business School to take executive courses. The Business school, which is located nearby, has need of more space, and so this scheme makes good sense.
Q8 This building could have had better community uses. Will it now just be a closed shell? What access will we have?
The building will not appear ‘closed’ off to the community or inaccessible. A key part of the design of the original School building in Park End Street was to have an open front allowing passers by to both look into the site and indeed to cross our site. With this development we are not starting with a clean sheet of paper, of course, and a Victorian building may have some constraints, but we will be approaching the development and working with our architects with the same design principles of openness in mind. We want the work of the business school to be accessible, and one way of symbolising that is a physical openness to the community in which we sit.
Beyond design, in more practical terms, we will be keen to identify opportunities for the community to come into the building periodically and will welcome input from the community to suggest ways in which that might be achieved. At our current building we have regular art exhibitions and theatre performances for instance to which the public are welcome. There may be other ideas that the community would like to propose.
When the building initially opens we will look forward to welcoming the community to view it.
Beyond that, we would hope to include the building in the annual Oxfordshire Open Doors scheme – as we do with the School’s Park End Street building.
Q9 The users of this building are ‘fat cat business men’. This is all about making money for the university. Better community use could be made.
All sorts of people – women as well as men - come to Saïd Business School from all over the world, to learn about business and to improve their business skills for the benefit of their organisations but also for the advancement of the economy and society at large.
We are proud of the contribution our research and teaching makes to the practice of business and to policy making for business. We are a leading business school internationally, as befits a department of the University of Oxford.
We are also proud of the commercial success of the Business School and the contribution it makes to the local and national economy– not least in generating significant local employment and in contributions to the local economy arising from the presence of our students. So yes, this project will contribute to University finances, which are then re-invested in teaching and research.
Q10 Will the School be buying up other buildings locally (or elsewhere in Oxford)?
The School is continuing to grow and we are constantly reviewing our needs and forecasting future requirements. We think that the Old Power Station will satisfy our mid term requirements for executive teaching space, but we may need more office accommodation and residential facilities. Of course, it is not necessary that we buy those and could rent them from other providers. Like most organisations, we continue to review our requirements.
Q11 Is the School going to dominate this part of town?
There is an extensive regeneration plan for the West of Oxford and the expectation is that many other organisations will choose to locate in this part of the City. We look forward to being part of this wider scheme of regeneration and development and are pleased that our buildings, due to the quality of their design and build, will be among the landmarks in the area.
Q12 Recently the University has made some controversial building decisions. How do we know this building will be in keeping with the local landscape?
The planning process is rigorous and offers the community reassurance on such matters. Beyond that, we have sought in developing the current School site to create a high-quality, attractive structure which is an asset to the neighbourhood and we will be seeking to renovate the OPS sensitively and responsibly.
We will be keen to hear residents’ concerns through the design and planning process and will respond to them as far as we are able.
The University’s Estates Services will follow the recommendations of the recent independent Goodstadt report into the planning process to ensure that we hold a full and open consultation.
Q13 Will this mean lots of disruption for residents over years of building work?
Any building work inevitably means some temporary disruption in the local area but we hope any inconvenience for those living close by will be short-lived through a well-managed redevelopment.
We have recent experience of working on a major build within a residential community (the extension to the School’s original building) and will work with our contractors and all those involved in the process to minimise disruption. For instance, our contractors will look to deliver bulky items at the best times possible, and in the least invasive ways, to minimise noise or inconvenience.
We will be hiring a professional consultant to identify sources of impact upon the community and to mitigate them.
Q14 What if the noise and disruption is worse than you say?
We will establish open communication with the community from the start of this project to allow any concerns to be communicated easily to the School, and its contractors, and for a timely response. We will set up a website and email enquiry point which is monitored to allow you to get in touch easily. We have recent experience of working on a major build within a residential community (the extension to the School’s original building in Park End Street) and demonstrated there that we were quick to respond to residents’ concerns.
We will be hiring a professional consultant to identify sources of impact upon the community and to mitigate them. Throughout the build our contractors will operate to best practice standards and will be seeking to minimise disruption.
We will monitor the ongoing situation. You will be able to feedback. The University is then committed to respond, above and beyond the statutory requirements to do so.
Q15 Will there be noisy students living there (residential)?
This will be a residential teaching centre for corporate executives.
The course participants who will use the teaching and residential rooms will be mature professionals who stay for short durations – usually just a week at a time. We envisage accommodation for approximately 100-150 individuals with the bulk of the space dedicated to teaching and support functions.
For the most part, the course participants will be executives returning to education as part of their career development, who are often sponsored by their employer. The courses these executives attend are intensive and closely timetabled, including the evenings, and it is our expectation that the participants will stay on site for much of their time in Oxford where they will have all their requirements met (in terms of study space, residential rooms, teaching facilities and catering and leisure facilities). We do not envisage a great deal of coming and going or noise from the site, therefore. Most users of the site will arrive on foot or by public transport so again, we do not envisage an increase in traffic noise of a result of our use.
We have extensive experience of this model of residential education for senior business people at our Egrove Park site in Kennington, where there is little disturbance to our neighbours.
This is not an undergraduate teaching or residential facility.
Q16 Will there be an increase in traffic and parking problems?
We foresee that most users of the building will come on foot or by public transport. (The railway is only 3 minutes’ walk away, so we will be encouraging them to come by train.) Our students who fly in from many locations internationally tend not to have cars with them.
We will not be seeking to increase the current parking allocation at the building and indeed may be able to reduce it. Spaces will be retained for disabled users or operational users.
The site’s proximity to the School and convenience for public transport are important considerations for us. We do not foresee an increase to traffic as a result of our activities.
During the construction phase itself there will be some increase of vehicles at particular times, but we will work with our contractors to ensure the disruption and inconvenience is minimised. For instance, we will work to limit delivery times and we will plan to break up large loads into smaller deliveries. We appreciate that this site sits among homes and we will be respectful of that.
Q17 Will there be bike racks there? How many?
The provision of bicycle racks is decided as part of the planning process, and it is likely that some provision will be made. The quantity will reflect the planned occupancy levels.
Q18 What use of the river do you have in mind. Will it lead to more flood risk? How will you protect the river?
A key requirement of the planning process is that any development on the site does not increase flood risk.
We have not yet formulated any detailed plans, and of course, the river is protected by environmental legislation, and any plans we propose will be subject to planning requirements.
There is a water course beneath the building which was used originally to cool the turbines as part of the process of producing electricity. It may be possible for us to use that water course for some of our energy needs. Our engineers will conduct feasibility studies into this and other sustainability measures as a means to help us achieve high environmental sustainability for the building.
The planning authorities are very much aware of flood risk in this part of Oxford and anything we do will have had their full investigation and approval before we proceed.
Q19 Will the building be sustainable/environmentally responsible? What will be the environmental impact of the building?
We intend to invite a range of architects to submit their plans and environmental sustainability will be a key consideration for us when we come to evaluate the proposals and to select an architect. We will want to capitalise upon leading-edge thinking on sustainable development to ensure that the building is at the forefront of environmental sustainability.
We may be able to harvest rainwater from the roof or to locate solar energy panels there for instance. There may be hydro-electric possibilities with a water course running under the building, which was previously used for cooling the turbines. We are excited to explore ways in which the river might help us to exceed sustainable/renewable energy targets. It would be particularly appropriate to generate some of our energy cleanly from a building previously dedicated to producing power.
The School’s original building and extension in Park End Street, designed by leading architectural practice Dixon Jones, are designed to be fully sustainable incorporating a number of green credentials including geothermal energy for heating and cooling, rainwater harvesting to flush toilets and solar energy contributing to water heating. The extension has a green roof which aids biodiversity and collects rainwater. Both construction innovations and planning requirements advance quickly in this area and we will be keen, not only to meet the requirements, but to exceed them wherever possible at this new site.
Q20 Will the building be built higher or the site expanded?
We do not yet have architectural plans for the building but currently have no plans to increase the overall height of the building and will seek to retain the existing skyline. We do envisage some additional new building within the site itself, such as on the service yard to the south of the site for instance.
Our intention is to preserve the heritage of the building and its important features. The silhouette of the turbine halls, for example, will be unchanged as this is a recognised and appreciated part of the building’s outline. At this stage we do not have a proposed design in place for the building. All our proposals will be subject to the usual planning process and will be thoroughly reviewed: there will be ample opportunity for community members to feedback formally and informally on the plans.
Q21 Instead of adding to the roofline, couldn’t you dig down (underground) or reduce the space you require?
At this stage we have no architectural plans but this may be something that the architects wish to consider as we move to the design stage for the proposed renovation.
We know clearly how much space is required for teaching the numbers of executive education candidates we need to accommodate (as we have extensive experience of this) so we will be keen to find ways to meet those requirements within the constraints of the site.
Q 22 Will the finished building look the same?
We will look to conserve the existing building. We will be keen to retain as much of the building’s architectural heritage as possible.
We will seek to retain the existing skyline so from the outside the building will look very similar. We do envisage some additional new building within the site itself, such as on the service yard to the south of the site for instance.
Q23 Will any houses be affected by the new building – eg in reducing light, or changing their views?
Any scheme that we propose in a planning application will be sensitive to the rights of the existing residential properties. There will be opportunity to comment on the design through consultation as the proposed scheme evolves
Q24 The building faces a conservation area. Will the views from that area be changed?
We do not yet have any plans for the proposed renovation, and the plans we submit will be subject to all the usual planning considerations, including any impact upon the conservation area. So the planning authorities will be mindful of this.
Q25 Will there be a large amount of light pollution at night?
The building will be environmentally controlled to limit unnecessary energy use, including during the night time. The only lit areas of the building in the evening will be those in use.
The number of windows facing the street are unlikely to increase.
Light levels emanating from the building in the evening are unlikely to challenge the street lighting already in place.
Q26 What will the community get out of this development?
If the Business School is able to take on this building and find a viable economic use for it, we will be preserving an important part of Oxford’s industrial heritage.
The building in recent times has been under-used and the University is keen to find a viable economic use for it to support its preservation and maintenance. The planned use by the Business School will prevent the possibility of the building falling into disrepair.
The University has a strong track record of sensitive restoration of important historical buildings and this will be the case with the OPS. The historical and aesthetic qualities of the building will be retained and celebrated. We think our plans represent a very positive future for the building. It will allow us to preserve the historical character of the building for future generations, and will give the community some access to the building which might not otherwise be the case. It is easy to imagine another scenario in which it might be turned into anonymous flats by a commercial developer, for instance, which might be a less positive outcome for the building and local community, with greater day to day disruption
Q27 What use of the facilities will the community get? What leisure or catering facilities will you have and will they be open to residents?
We will be interested to hear what the community would value. At this stage, we are at the very beginning of the project with no design plans in place, so we have not determined the facilities the site will have, nor yet thought about how those might be opened up to the community at specific times.
At the School’s Park End Street building, for example, we have regular art exhibitions and theatre performances at which the public are welcome. We may be able to open up exhibition or cultural space here. Or there may be other ideas here that the local community would like to propose.
Meeting Rooms might be available for community groups to use, when available, for instance.
At this stage we are interested to hear your ideas and as the plans take on a firmer shape we can evaluate the possibilities and feed back our thinking to the group.
Q 28 How can residents find out about what is going on? How will you communicate with us over the two or three years building?
We will shortly update this website with information on the plans for the site. Everything is at a very early stage but we will share the plans as they develop and will update and enhance the information as it all progresses.
There will be an opportunity for residents to give feedback or ask questions on the website via email.
We created a similar website for the extension to the original School building and we understand that residents found it a useful resource.
We will also have a main contact person for all community enquiries and their direct telephone number will be made available once we begin the consultation process
There will be community meetings for updates and discussion.
Q29 Will the views of residents be taken into account? What notice will you take/what is the process/what come back will we have if we do not like your plans?
The University’s Estates Services will follow the recommendations of the recent independent Goodstadt report into the planning process to ensure that we hold a full and open consultation.
At the Business School we have shown ourselves to be good neighbours at our original site and have good relations with the community there.
We are keen to engage with our new neighbours and to hear their views.
There will be various ways in which the community can share their thinking with us, including via new web pages (above) but we are also keen to meet regularly with the residents’ associations and to establish a dialogue.
We took account of views when we were designing our new extension to the Park End Street building and indeed made alterations as a result.
We are approaching this development in a spirit of open-mindedness and goodwill. We want to do the right thing in terms of preserving the building, repurposing it for contemporary use and enhancing the local environment.
We are committed to engaging with communities around their concerns and to address them wherever reasonable possible.
Q30 Will public events be held at the site. How many?
We envisage that most of our public events will continue to be held at the School’s Park End site where we have the space and infrastructure to manage them effectively. There may occasionally be small public events at the OPS site – but the site is unlikely to have the space necessary for larger gatherings.
Q31 In the past, the Saïd building has been the site for public protests. Do you envisage any activity of this sort at OPS?
Occasionally, groups have chosen to protest at the Saïd Business School’s Park End Street building. In most instances, these protests have had no direct connection to the work of the business school, but have sought to capitalise upon the public site of our building to draw attention to an unrelated cause. Very rarely have there been protests at the School about an aspect of our work. Overall, in the years we have been at Park End Street we have experienced very little disruption of any kind.
The Park End Street building will continue to be the School’s main building and its public face, so it would be expected that anyone choosing to protest either against some aspect of the School’s work, or just seeking to find a very public site, would choose this main School building over the OPS site, which will be low key and located in a quiet residential area, without the benefit of passers by. So we do not think this will be a factor for the building or will be a cause of disruption for local residents.
Q32 Which architects will you choose/How will you select an architect?
We will hold an architectural competition inviting submissions from a range of architectural practices.
We will select an architect based on a number of factors, including how they propose to utilise the existing features of the building; sustainability measures; and innovative ideas to capitalise upon the additional building we envisage (eg building on the car park) to meet our teaching needs.
Q33 How will the University fund this work?
We will be looking at a number of funding options, including fundraising among our community and supporters.
Q34 What will happen to its Templeton/Egrove site?
The University owns the Templeton/Egrove site. The School continues to use the Templeton/Egrove site for teaching and for short residential executive education programmes.
The plans for the Old Power Station will take some time to come to fruition and we will certainly need to use the Egrove site during that period.
Looking further ahead, it is difficult to say exactly what our property needs will be, but we anticipate continued growth.
Q35 What are the next steps?
The project is at a very early stage of development.
We will soon shortlist architectural practices and then appoint a firm to conduct a further feasibility study for the site by early May. This stage will lead to the development of an outline scheme for the site.
We will then move towards submitting a planning application, which is likely to take 12 months or more.
Once the architects are able to provide a visual impression of the building plans and further details of the scheme, we will share these via our dedicated project web site and take the opportunity to consult with the community.
If the project goes ahead, and the planning process is successfully concluded, we would envisage that the building might be completed in 2018.
1 What does Saïd Business School do?
Saïd Business School at Oxford University is a young, vibrant, and innovative business school embedded in an 800 year old world-class university.
We educate people for successful business careers, and as a community seek to use our business acumen and global network to address world-scale issues like demographic change, new technologies and natural resource scarcity.
We deliver cutting-edge education and ground-breaking research that transforms individuals, organisations, business practice, and society.
The School was first established in 1991 as the University of Oxford’s School of Management Studies and was named Saïd Business School in 1998 in recognition of a benefaction of £20Million from Mr Wafic Saïd.
Our Masters in Business Administration (MBA) programme ( a post-graduate masters degree in management) was established in 1996. Each year it attracts c 240 young business people from around the world – around 45 nationalities each year – to study business in Oxford on this one year programme.
Besides the MBA programme we have a number of other masters level degree programmes, a very highly respected undergraduate programme and a number of executive education programmes for companies and senior executives.
In all, we have more than 600 degree students studying with us in any given year, and XX hundred executives studying on short courses at the School.
Besides teaching our students, our 60 + faculty are involved in path-breaking research, and many of them advise governments and companies around the world.
2 Who is Mr Saïd?
Businessman and philanthropist Mr Wafic Saïd made a founding donation of £20 Million to the University towards the establishment of the business school
Mr Saïd remains a generous supporter of the School, having donated £70 million to date. More recent donations include £15 million for the new West Wing and an endowment for a Strategic Development Fund for the School.
For more information on the Business School and our research and teaching, please explore more of our website.