Work is progressing on a project to transform Oxford’s Broad Street, which is expected to open later in October.
Plans for Oxford’s Broad Street transformation include sitting areas with planters for visitors to meet with friends to socialise or just take a break between working, sightseeing or shopping. It is being delivered as one of Oxfordshire County Council’s priorities to provide green spaces in busy urban areas and to promote wellbeing.
Sustainable and innovative street furniture will be used to create a welcoming space for communities. And local businesses and residents have been involved in delivering the project to ensure that the street furniture is made responsibly and locally.
Oxford’s Broad Street transformation project will use robust wooden benches and seats made using locally sourced reclaimed wood where possible. This furniture has been produced by RAW workshop, an award-winning social enterprise based in Blackbird Leys, Oxford.
Planters placed on Broad Street are made by WoodBlocX. They are made from sustainable materials and have a twenty-year design life. They have been supplied as modular kits, making them easier to transport. And they can be cleanly dismantled after use and reused.
RAW was established five years ago by Rick Mower to train and employ local people who have experienced life-impacting challenges. The team collected 715.5 tonnes of reclaimed wood last year and contributed to a CO2 saving of over 62,000 kgs.
WoodBlocX has made street furniture for other cities, including the Westfield shopping centre in London and Saughton Park in Edinburgh. It is a family business based in the Highlands. The business production chain is kept entirely within the local area, and it plants an average of two or more saplings for every tree used.
When Broad Meadow was introduced between July and October 2021, it drew more than 100,000 visitors, and 90% of respondents to a consultation by Oxford City Council said they would like to see the project happen again.
This new Broad Street scheme will offer an enlarged public space for the local community, businesses and event organisers to use throughout the year for the duration of an experimental period from autumn 2022 to spring 2024.
Oxford Direct Services has been organising the site and managing the delivery and installation of the street furniture. This includes preparing the planters with a water irrigation system to ensure the plants have a steady water supply according to their requirements, supported by a drainage layer to protect roots and conserve excess water.
The planters are being filled with a mix of seasonal native flowers, trees and shrubs so that they will have all-year growth with a display that changes with the seasons.
Completion of the overall layout installation is expected in the week commencing 17 October, with the work finishing by the week of 24 October 2022.
Parking spaces in Broad Street have been removed as part of a temporary Broad Street Project lasting for the 18 months up to spring 2024. There is currently no parking available except for some Blue Badge parking bays.
Councillor Andrew Gant, Cabinet Member for Highways Management at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “It’s great to see the Broad Street scheme coming to life and delivering an appealing urban park in the midst of a beautiful setting. Preserving and improving access to green space is a vital part of our priorities.
“This creates a vibrant space for everyone to enjoy while keeping climate responsibility at the heart of its delivery. I know I speak for myself as well as our team in saying we could not have achieved this without the wealth of valuable input we have received from our partners and I feel a great pride in the results.”