The redevelopment of East Oxford Community Centre is taking another step forward as Oxford City Council prepares for planning approval for works to start.
The council’s scrutiny committee will be reviewing the request to give the green light for work to start, making sure the council has a strong plan to deliver benefit to the community for the investment.
The budget for the project is now set at £5.43 million and will be funded in part by housing development for both social and private sector housing.
Designs for a redeveloped centre will provide more flexible space behind the familiar frontage, and will also create a new, highly energy-efficient extension.
A key aim of the redevelopment is to create a sustainable, cultural hub that is used by a broader range of the community, helping celebrate local diversity, heritage and cultural identity.
The project to redevelop the centre also includes new housing in east Oxford, a mixture of social housing, shared ownership and private sector housing that will contribute to the funding of the scheme.
Planning permission for the redevelopment, including housing at Princes St and Collins St, was given in December 2020. The council-owned site on Catherine Street will be sold for private sector housing to help fund the redevelopment.
The need for redevelopment
East Oxford Community Centre needs to be redeveloped because ageing buildings on the site are no longer usable. Part of the Chinese Community Centre has been condemned and is no longer open to the public, and the old ‘B Block’ has had to be demolished.
The redevelopment will see the Chinese Community Centre and the Fusion Arts buildings demolished and replaced with a new three-storey building featuring purpose-built space for Fusion Arts and Film Oxford; flexible community space; and office space.
The Old School building will be completely refurbished to create a new kitchen, new toilets and more flexible community spaces.
Groups that will be based at the redeveloped site include Fusion Arts, Film Oxford, Oxford Chinese Community and Advice Centre, BK.Luwo, and The Oxford Action Resource Centre. Regular activities range from yoga to lindy hop to Friday prayer.
“This is a really important investment in East Oxford, one of our most diverse areas in the city with a really active community centre. Our community centres provide much needed affordable space for people to learn new skills, share knowledge and cultures, enjoy activities and get to know others in their area.
“As part of this development we’re also able to provide social housing in a central location, built to high environmental standards. This is an ambitious project to support east Oxford residents and ensure an inclusive future for generations from every background.”
—Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities