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With ambitions of greater rowing excellence, Radley College needed an all-year rowing facility to mimic river conditions.
With the river being remote from the College and with increasing flood incidents creating dangerous conditions, an alternative to river training was required. An indoor rowing tank was an innovative solution and one which would also allow public use in line with the College’s commitment to the wider community.
The College is located partially within the Oxford Green Belt and outside the policy-defined ‘appropriate’ area of the College. Initially considered by the planning authority to be ‘inappropriate’ development the building required ‘very special circumstances’ in order to gain consent. The building needed to be 10m wide x 24m in length to accommodate a boat for 8 people within a water tank with a hard surface on either side.
A comprehensive case with supporting evidence was made to justify the proposal relating to the ‘very special circumstances’ required for inappropriate development in the Green Belt. Evidence of other indoor rowing tanks approved within a Green Belt setting was researched highlighting two other cases in the UK.
The proposed building, designed by Mulroy Architects, was high quality and low level, so it would blend in with existing buildings. The design and siting minimised the impact on the openness of the Green Belt.
Special circumstances were deemed to exist and planning permission was granted under delegated powers. The building was completed in 2016. The building won the ‘Design through Innovation’ category at the RICS Awards 2016, South East.
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