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Clearing the way for refurbished East Oxford Community Centre

Demolition work at the East Oxford Community Centre site has started, to clear the way for new buildings to add to the old school house that sits at the heart of the community centre.

Contractor ODS, who are managing the redevelopment, will be demolishing the 20th century blocks on site that were previously used by the Chinese Cultural and Advice Centre, and by Fusion Arts. They will also remove the modern kitchen block extension that has also provided the Princes Street entrance, to reveal the old building as the main frontage of the new centre.

Two 360 excavators, the largest weighing in at 30 tonnes, will be used to break down the buildings, using an excavator claw to carefully collapse the old structures. Some parts of the demolition process will be done by hand with handheld power tools to ensure no damage to adjoining properties, which will also be protected with scaffolding. Recyclable parts have already been stripped out including windows and metalwork, and all demolished materials are recycled where possible to ensure minimum landfill.

The redevelopment of east Oxford’s community spaces is a major investment in the area. It will create a modern, accessible, purpose-built centre with a lower carbon footprint than the current mix of buildings. A key aim of the redevelopment is to create a sustainable, cultural hub that supports current users and attracts a broader range of the community, helping celebrate local diversity, heritage and cultural identity.

The site will also see OX Place, the council’s housing company, working on behalf of the council to develop 12 energy efficient flats for social rent next door to the community centre. This will provide one and two bedroom council flats in a great location, with a hub of activities and community support on their doorstep.

The former games hall at Collins Street is also part of the East Oxford Community project, this building will be demolished following the completion of the demolition at Princes Street. The site will be converted by OX Place to provide 14 new affordable shared ownership homes on behalf of the council, which will help fund the ambitious community centre redevelopment. Groups that have used the games hall will have the opportunity to relocate to the redeveloped East Oxford Community Centre or other council facilities.

The buildings marked for demolition within the project are unsustainable and beyond economic repair to bring up to sustainable standards that meet the council’s net zero targets. Work has been underway since last year to prepare for the demolition, including structural surveys, asbestos removal, stripping out internal fixtures and working with the utility companies to make safe gas, electric and water supply. The demolition is a major step on the next phase of the development, clearing the way for the new centre and social housing to start taking shape.

Councillor Shaista Aziz, cabinet member for inclusive communities said:

“This is a major step in the project to deliver new, modern facilities for east Oxford’s communities. We want to provide a centre that has great community facilities for those that already love it and that welcome new users and new needs. Like the area around it, the centre will blend the old and the new, reflecting the way local communities use the centre to celebrate traditions and bring new creativity to east Oxford.”

Simon Howick, managing director of ODS said:

“Given ODS’ recent success in building Bullingdon Community Centre, we are delighted to be involved in this exciting new project. The building not only plays an important part in bringing local communities together, but it is also of historical importance. Over time, it has fallen into disrepair leading to the demolition and redevelopment of the centre. We are proud to be part of the first phase of bringing this community centre back to life.”

Helen Horne, managing director at OX Place said:

“As well as providing modern community facilities, the redevelopment of East Oxford Community Centre will also see OX Place building 26 affordable council and shared ownership homes on behalf of the council. We are a social impact developer providing design-led affordable homes that are comfortable, sustainable and that aim to add value to the local community, and I’m looking forward to starting work onsite in due course.”