Have your say on the future of East Oxford Community Centre

Published: Wednesday, 28th September 2016

Residents will be able to view and have their say on a potential multi-million pound redevelopment of East Oxford Community Centre at exhibitions later this week.

The exhibitions will take place at the community centre, in Princes Street, between 11am and 3pm on Friday (30/9), and between 10am and 2pm on Saturday (1/10).

Members of the public will be able to view artist impressions of and information about the redevelopment options, and speak to City Council officers about the project.

Oxford City Council commissioned Purcell to investigate the redevelopment options. After a year of research, the company has now produced its feasibility study.

The City Council has £670,000 to invest in the community centre and is facing increasingly expensive repair bills. Part of one building is dilapidated and is currently closed to users, and the roof of another building is currently leaking.

Purcell’s study found that doing the minimum and spending £350,000 on minor refurbishments would not reduce high on-going maintenance costs and would risk high-cost structural failures in the future.

The report found that a £2.3m refurbishment and redevelopment of the site is “the most viable option”, would secure the long-term future of the community centre, and would provide additional, modern and flexible space to meet the needs of a wide range of potential users.

This option would see the old school building refurbished, the west building (currently housing Fusion Arts) remodelled to create new art space, and a new two-storey building – featuring modern film and recording studios on the ground floor, and offices and community space above – constructed alongside the west building.

The feasibility study found that the £2.3m needed for this option could be raised if the City Council sold the East Oxford Games Hall and Film Oxford sites, along with the part of the East Oxford Community Centre site where the condemned and dilapidated buildings are, for much-needed housing.

The current users of East Oxford Games Hall, Film Oxford and East Oxford Community Centre are being kept informed and consulted throughout the process, and will be rehomed with refurbished and modern facilities if the £2.3m option goes ahead. It is hoped these new facilities will allow users to grow their groups.

Oxford City Council now wants the views of East Oxford residents. A month-long public consultation, asking residents what they consider important in a redeveloped East Oxford Community Centre and which of the options they prefer, will start on Friday (30/9).

Councillor Christine Simm, Executive Board Member for Culture and Communities, said: “We want and need to make improvements to East Oxford Community Centre in the next few years to secure the site for future generations.

“We would like to make a step change to the facilities at the community centre by bringing in modern film and music recording studios, expanding the art rooms and refurbishing the beautiful old school building.

“But our year-long feasibility study found this was only possible if we consolidate the community spaces across East Oxford into the East Oxford Community Centre site, and sell the vacated space for housing.

“Selling community space is not something we take lightly, which is why we want to know what you think of the options on the table.”

The East Oxford Community Centre site was initially established as the St John’s Boys’ School in 1866. The site remained in use as a school until the 1970s, when it incorporated the other buildings on the site and became the community centre.