Residents to help plan the future of Blackbird Leys

Published: Thursday, 9th May 2019

Blackbird Leys residents will get a chance to help plan the future of the neighbourhood during two community planning days of workshops, walkthroughs and brainstorms.

The community planning days will offer residents chance to really get involved and help shape plans to bring improved shops and community facilities, and at least 250 homes across two sites in Blackbird Leys.

Oxford City Council, Catalyst Housing Ltd, and architects JTP will host the drop-in events at The Barn, Nightingale Avenue, Blackbird Leys, Oxford, OX4 7BU tomorrow (10/5) and on Saturday (11/5).

The drop-in events will include discussion workshops, workshops for young people, and guided walkabouts of the development sites – and another chance for the local community to meet the development team.

The timings for the planning day tomorrow, which will run between 1.45pm and 5pm, are:

  • 1.45pm: Background exhibition open
  • 2pm: Welcome and introduction
  • 2.15pm: Discussion workshops and young people’s workshop
  • 3.30pm: Hands-on planning groups

The timings for the planning day on Saturday, which will run between 11am and 5pm, are:

  • 11am: Background exhibition open
  • 11.15am: Welcome and introduction
  • 11.30am: Discussion workshop and young people’s workshop
  • 1pm: Lunch
  • 2pm: Hands-on planning groups
  • 3.30pm: Next steps workshop

Ideas generated at the drop-in events will help shape the project, which will see Catalyst build at least 250 new homes, as well as improving the shopping parade, community facilities and outdoor public space, on Oxford City Council-owned land in the District Centre and at Knights Road.

The development will include homes for social rent and shared ownership. The City Council’s policy is for 40 per cent of housing development to be for social rent and 10 per cent shared ownership.

In March, the City Council and Catalyst delivered surveys to more than 5,000 households in Blackbird Leys to ask residents how they would like to get involved in the on-going engagement that will take place throughout this year.

Two consultation events were also held last month (April), giving local residents the opportunity to meet the development team, learn more about the project, talk through their questions and give their ideas. The team have also been visiting local community groups and holding pop-up stalls in the local area to reach more people.

The City Council and Catalyst will feed back on the outcomes of all the consultation activity at an event on 18 June, and exhibit the resulting plans at The Leys Festival in June, before beginning more detailed consultation on the proposals.

The project will take place over two sites. It will see:

  • The redevelopment of the district centre in Blackbird Leys Road, which will bring new homes and improved shops, community facilities and public spaces in the heart of Blackbird Leys.
  • A new housing development on land between Knights Road, the Kassam Stadium, Northfield School and Spindleberry Nature Park. The site has been allocated for housing since 2013.

The housing developments will be ‘tenure blind’, meaning the social and private housing should be indistinguishable from the outside, and will be mixed across the developments to contribute to a sustainable community.

The City Council and Catalyst are looking to work with other landowners in the area as part of the project, including Oxfordshire County Council.

The aim is to submit a planning application in 2020.

For more information about the Blackbird Leys redevelopment project, please visit: www.oxford.gov.uk/bblproject.

Stephen Clarke, Oxford City Council’s Head of Housing Services, said: “We want to give Blackbird Leys residents as many opportunities as possible to have their say on this project – and help shape the future of the neighbourhood.

“If you’re a Blackbird Leys resident and you can’t attend the drop-in events, please get in touch with the project team by visiting www.oxford.gov.uk/bblproject so that we can get your thoughts on the project.

“The Blackbird Leys redevelopment will deliver new community facilities, public spaces and shops in Blackbird Leys, and help address the acute need for new homes in Oxford.”

Hannah Utting, who is leading the project from Catalyst, said: “Through the engagement process so far, we’ve met lots of local residents and other stakeholders in the community, and hear their views. We’re looking forward to meeting even more people at the community planning days, and getting them more closely involved in planning the future of their neighbourhood.”