Delayed work to turn Carmel College into homes to start this year

Building work on 166 new homes, a swimming pool, a restaurant, and cafe on the site of derelict Carmel College in Crowmarsh Gifford is due to begin this year, about two years after planning permission was granted.

Developer Comer Homes Group had plans for 113 flats and 53 houses in Mongewell Park approved by South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) in September 2014.

But building work to turn the old Jewish boarding school into a high-end housing estate with a boating lake stalled while financial negotiations continued.

A deal for how much money the developer will contribute to the local area – called an S106 agreement – is now due to be signed off, allowing work to start.

Catherine Mason, associate director for planning at Comer Homes agents, Savills, said: “We expect final sign off on the S106 agreement imminently and as such expect building work to begin later this year.”

Planning consultant for PJPC, Phillipa Jarvis, who often works with SODC told the Guardian Savills had informed her that Comers had earmarked September as a possible start date for construction work.

Work could by finished by September 2018.

Wallingford resident Robin Sladden, 53, of Winterbrook Lane, said: “The college has been looking very dormant for a while now so the plans have been more than welcome.

“If you were going to live in Wallingford, I know there would be lots of people that would want to live in a place like that and I don’t think it would have that much of an adverse impact on the town.”

The 31.8 hectare site of Mongewell Park has three listed buildings to be kept as part of the development – the Julius Gottlieb gallery and boathouse, the Jewish Synagogue, and an amphitheatre.

In total 24 buildings will be demolished including dormitories and science laboratories to make way for 13 new two to three storey buildings.

Mongewell House, built in 1888 to 1890 will also be converted into six homes. It was used as a hospital for wounded officers in the First World War.

Carmel College, a former Jewish boarding school, ran from 1948 until 1997.

The development will also see the northern gate pier, built in 1889 at the entrance to the college, demolished so the driveway can be widened to 6m from 4.5m.

SODC leader John Cotton said: “I think this will be a lovely development and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the end product looks like.”

He said delays between planning permission and work starting is the ‘biggest problem’ with housing in South Oxfordshire.

Cllr Cotton added: “We’re pressing developers to say when they can deliver the houses so they don’t just sit on the site once they get permission.”