Prince Harry has officially reopened Barton Neighbourhood Centre following a £1m refurbishment by Oxford City Council.
The Duke of Sussex reopened the centre as part of a visit to Barton Neighbourhood Centre today (14/5) that also saw him meet young leaders from Thrive Teams, and the community food bank and café.
After Prince Harry’s visit, the neighbourhood centre was opened and members of the public had the opportunity to look around the newly-refurbished building.
Barton Neighbourhood Centre, in Underhill Circus, has been transformed by the City Council to create a health and community hub for existing and new residents in Barton.
The £940,000 refurbishment of Barton Neighbourhood Centre has seen:
- The GP surgery triple in size. Offices, previously used by City Council staff, have been transformed into three new consulting rooms, two new group and counselling rooms, a new staffroom and kitchen area, new record storage space, and a new external access
- A new entrance and foyer area built to create a brighter and more welcoming entrance to the centre. The brickwork has been re-plastered and painted, and new windows have been installed
- The sports hall refurbished. The hall’s lighting and heating systems have been replaced, and the facility has been deep cleaned and repainted
- The toilets refurbished, with new fixtures and fittings
- The lighting throughout the community centre upgraded to be energy efficient
- Six garages in Underhill Circus demolished to create additional parking spaces for the expanded GP surgery
The refurbishment was carried out by Oxford Direct Services.
Barton Neighbourhood Centre, which first opened in 1992, is home to a GP surgery, community café, community hall, sports hall, advice centre, police office, youth club and other services and facilities.
The centre aims to complement Barton Park, which has been designed to embed health and wellbeing into the fabric of community. This work led to the housing development being recognised as one of NHS England’s Healthy New Towns.
Alongside 885 new homes, Barton Park features streets that are designed for walking and cycling, a network of parks and green spaces, outdoor gym equipment, sports facilities, improved allotments, and homes designed for whole lifetimes.
The Barton Healthy New Town project has provided a range of grants to local community groups and health professionals to help address health inequalities, encourage healthy lifestyles, and find innovative and local solutions to the issues.
Government data shows that part of Barton is amongst the 10 per cent most deprived communities in England and Wales. Men who live in the ward die, on average, 10.8 years younger than those who live in the least deprived community in Oxford.
Barton Neighbourhood Centre is managed by Barton Community Association, which organised for Prince Harry to reopen the centre during his visit to Thrive Teams.
Ian Brooke, Oxford City Council’s Head of Community Services, said: “We were delighted that Prince Harry was able to reopen Barton Neighbourhood Centre.
“Our aim with the refurbishment was to create a vibrant and welcoming centre that meets the community, health and wellbeing needs of the existing and new residents of Barton.”
Sue Holden, Secretary of Barton Community Association, said: “We are delighted to see the project come to fruition. There have been times when it’s been hard going for everyone, but looking at the finished result the pain was well worth it. It’s a great facility for the community to enjoy. And who would have thought that when we set out on this journey back in March 2018 that 14 months later none other than Prince Harry would be doing the honours and attending our celebratory event."