Oxford City Council would like to publicly thank users and local residents for taking part in the recent East Oxford Community Centre consultation.
The City Council carried out the month-long and widely-publicised public consultation on the future of the community centre throughout October.
Community centre users and East Oxford residents were asked to indicate a preference for one of three options for the future of the site:
- Option 1: A minor refurbishment scheme that would include: painting, decorating, patch repairs and new flooring; but would not reduce high on-going maintenance costs and would risk high-cost structural failures in the future
- Option 2: A major refurbishment and minor redevelopment that would see £1.4m spent on painting, decorating, patch repairs, new flooring, new windows and a new roof for the advice centre, and demolishing and reproviding ‘B Block’ as a new build facility. This option would require selling the East Oxford Games Hall and Film Oxford sites for housing to raise funds
- Option 3: A major refurbishment and major redevelopment that would see £2.3m spent on redecorating the old school building, redecorating and remodelling the Fusion Arts building, and constructing a modern two-storey building featuring film and music studios, offices and community spaces. This option would require selling the East Oxford Games Hall and Film Oxford sites, along with the northern section of East Oxford Community Centre (with the poorest/ dilapidated buildings), for housing to raise funds
The three options came out of a year-long and independent study that looked at what was feasible on the East Oxford Community Centre site. The City Council has £670,000 of its own capital to invest in the project.
The study found that Option 3 is the most viable, but the City Council wanted to get the views of community centre users and East Oxford residents before progressing with a project.
In total, 148 people completed the consultation. This is higher than the average response rate for the City Council’s consultations, which in 2016 was 97 responses before the East Oxford Community Centre consultation.
Of those who completed the consultation, 91.2 per cent said they hire the community centre, are a user of the centre, or are a combination of the two.
The response to each scheme option was:
- Option 1: 33.0% agreed or strongly agreed (36 of 109); 50.5% disagreed or strongly disagreed (55 of 109)
- Option 2: 42.5% agreed or strongly agreed (45 of 106); 30.2% disagreed or strongly disagreed (32 of 106)
- Option 3: 60% (69 of 115) agreed or strongly agreed (32 of 115); 27.8% disagreed or strongly disagreed
The City Council wanted as many community centre users and East Oxford residents to take part in the consultation as possible to get a broad community view. Adverts were placed in the Oxford Mail, Oxford Times, Oxfordshire Guardian, Oxford Mail website, and on Facebook and Instagram. These were viewed 675,084 times across all the platforms. Large posters were also installed outside East Oxford Community Centre.
Two day-long exhibitions were also organised at the community centre for members of the public to speak to the architect and project manager about the project. These were attended by more than 100 people over the two days.
On top of this, children from East Oxford youth club and local schools were introduced to the proposals and took part in a focus group.
The City Council welcomes the comments that were put forward during the consultation process, which were constructive and valuable, and will be closely considering these.
On Tuesday (22/11), the City Council met with the East Oxford Community Centre reference group, which includes users and hirers, to talk through the results of the consultation and discuss the next steps. At the meeting it was agreed that an exercise would be undertaken with tenants to plan the internal space and that a visit would be arranged with them to see a good example of a similar development.
City Council officers are now preparing a report that will go to the City Executive Board in the New Year. The report will ask the Executive Board to take a decision on the way forward for the project.
Meanwhile, the City Council is also in discussions with a number of user groups about bringing in additional external fundraising and will consider the project timescales after these meetings. Many national grant pots are not available to local authorities, but are available to community groups.
The intention remains to rehouse all the groups that currently use the three sites within the new East Oxford Community Centre. The only exception is badminton sessions at the East Oxford Games Hall; the City Council is investigating alternative provision nearby.
Councillor Christine Simm, Executive Board Member for Culture and Communities, said: “We would like to thank everyone who took the time to take part in the consultation. East Oxford Community Centre is an important community facility, and we want the whole community to be involved in this project. As the project moves forward, users and residents will continue to be kept informed at every stage.”