Rose Hill residents have say on community centre ideas

Rose Hill residents were invited to a vote on whether to refurbish or rebuild their community centre

The Messy Jam dancers entertained people at the event

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

ROSE Hill residents have cast their votes on the future of their community centre.

Oxford City Council has offered members of the public a choice between a revamp of the current centre, in The Oval, or a new development next to the recreation ground.

With huge layout and cost differences between the two options, residents were invited to examine plans in detail and vote on their preferred proposal at an event on Saturday at the existing centre.

Ashhurst Road resident Lily Mannion, 78, and her son Paul, 50, said they both favoured a new-build.

Mr Mannion said: “I think it would be great for us to get a fresh start. The current centre has been great, but it’s had its day.”

And Mrs Mannion added: “If they built a new one, they could knock the old one down and build houses on the land, which we desperately need.”

If chosen, the £3m new-build proposal would include a much larger hall, with more accessible youth club, a training kitchen, sports changing facilities and more.

The refurbishment of the old centre would cost £650,000 and would feature improved entrances to both the hall and youth club, as well as updated toilets, improved heating and a new layout.

Both options would be funded by developer contributions, but the more costly new build would also include money from the council, funds from the use of the old site for a housing scheme and cash set aside to provide new changing rooms after the pavilion is demolished.

Members of the Nepalese community in Rose Hill have backed the new-build proposal too, because they want a bigger hall to fit all their members in.

Former president of the community, Chitra Thapa, 52, said: “If they build a new community centre, there needs to be a big hall.”

Nowell Road resident Bhakta Limbu added: “The community has more than 200 members, and at the moment, the hall is too small.”

Rose Hill city councillor Antonia Bance said there was “no contest” between the options, but said the council would do what the community wanted.

She said: “I think the new built is the better deal, and it’s an opportunity which is not going to happen again.

“But the people of Rose Hill have to make that decision, and if they come back and say they want the refurbishment, that’s what will happen.”

Architect Simon Kneafsey, from ADPs, said that both designs had been drawn up in consultation with people from Rose Hill. He said: “We asked the community what it wanted.

“It’s very much about providing the right services for people in the right place.”

The votes will be counted at the Town Hall on Friday, and the results and final plans will be presented to the city council’s executive on December 19 for a decision.

  • A £500,000 improvement plan for Rose Hill was first mooted back in 2005, when Oxford City Council and Oxford Citizens’ Housing Association revealed plans to demolish 153 Orlit homes on Rose Hill, replacing them with 254 new houses.

It was revealed that any deal with an as yet undetermined developer would require major investment in the local community centre, The Oval.

Six years later in April 2011 the £450,000 windfall was unveiled by the city council in the form of community contributions from developer Taylor Wimpey.

In January this year, the council announced it was exploring the possibility of a new centre away from The Oval, which dates back to 1956.

The idea divided opinion on the estate, with some residents saying that all that is needed is a refurbishment of the existing centre.

In September Rose Hill councillor and deputy council leader Ed Turner announced that plans for a new centre are not a “done deal”.

He argued that “there is no point spending scarce public resources on a facility the public does not want.”

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