Comments invited on planning proposals for new Cave Street development

Published: Monday, 16th May 2022

Oxford City Council is asking residents to comment on the proposals for a new building to replace Standingford House, Cave Street.

The Cave Street plans were agreed by the City Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 10 November 2021 and draft designs have been developed prior to submitting a planning application.

The consultation runs until Saturday 28 May.


The £9.7m plans will see Standingford House in Cave Street (off St Clements) demolished and the site redeveloped to create a flexible and accessible new workspace. The Council aims to submit a planning application following the consultation and it is anticipated work on the site will start at the end of the year.


The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) secured £1.13m of investment towards the project via the government’s Local Growth Fund, and is helping support the proposal for 30% of the workspace to be let at 80% of market rates - providing affordable business space for Oxford’s new start-ups.

History of Standingford House

Standingford House is a 1960s light industrial building owned and managed by the City Council.

While it currently houses 14 businesses and organisations, the building is in need of both repair and modernisation to meet current and future efficiency standards. It also has poor accessibility, with no wheelchair provision and no lift access.

The City Council investigated a range of options, including refurbishing the existing building. The building is now at the end of its life and redeveloping the site is the best use of funds as well as providing the right space to meet the needs of modern businesses and offers the opportunity to provide more than double the existing area of workspace.

A new Standingford House

The new workspace will see a significantly increased gross internal floor area from 9,569 sq.ft. GIFA to approximately 18,700 sq.ft, making more efficient use of an important site allocated for employment use in the Oxford Local Plan.

The new three-storey building will be flexible to enable fledgling businesses to easily scale from one desk to a self-contained office. It will offer a range of different spaces, such as breakout spaces, meeting rooms, offices and single desks, offering businesses a choice currently unavailable to them.

The new building will be fully accessible and aspires to achieve the highest BREEAM (Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Method) rating of ‘outstanding’.

Other measures include:

  • Fabric-first approach with external fabric following best practice guidance (LETI Commercial Offices Typology)
  • Performance above Oxford Policy 40% reduction in carbon emissions compared with 2013 Building Regulations
  • High performing windows providing solar control whilst maximising daylight
  • Shading strategy with recessed windows and external shades to address overheating and overlooking
  • No fossil fuel dependence
  • Electrified services with Air Source Heat Pumps providing space heating and domestic hot water
  • Mechanical ventilation system with Heat Recovery
  • Thermal mass with night cooling to reduce indoor temperature during summer months
  • LED Lighting provide throughout with daylight dimmable controls
  • EV charging facilities will be provided
  • Full Building Management System
  • Roof mounted Photovoltaic panels will be installed to provide on-site energy generation
  • Net Zero Ready strategy
  • Strategy being developed as part of Circular Economy Principles to reuse materials from existing building within new proposals

It is hoped that preparatory work will be able to start on site early summer 2022 and include stripping out works and works to divert the main building services. The principle building work is planned to commence by the end of the year and to be completed summer 2024.

Fostering an inclusive economy

Oxford is regularly named as having one of the best performing economies in the country, including coming top of the Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities report four years in a row, but the city lacks high-quality business space.

According to agents VSL & Partners, rents have increased by as much as 46% through the pandemic. Bidwells estimates that approximately 75% of all lease activity is driven by knowledge sectors, with demand for office and lab space outstripping supply.

Oxford needs more good quality, flexible workspace to meet the needs of businesses. It also needs a greater level of affordable business space for organisations in the early stages or with limited funding to get started.

The City Council has a corporate objective to enable an inclusive economy. The aim of this is to distribute wealth more equitably across the city, for example by encouraging businesses to pay the Oxford Living Wage, and to provide affordable space for Oxford residents, including those from more deprived areas, to start new businesses.

Leader of Oxford City Council, Councillor Susan Brown, said: “The redevelopment of the Cave Street site will provide a new modern, flexible, accessible and energy-efficient office space, alongside new tree planting and other landscaping. The building will include space at affordable rates to provide start-up business space for Oxford’s entrepreneurs.

“The views of local people matter and will be included as part of the planning application, as the information gathered from residents will be used in the Statement of Community Consultation”.

More information on the Cave Street consultation.