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£60m Islamic studies centre to open at last
IT WILL have taken 11 years and more than £60m but one of Oxford’s boldest developments could be open for business later this year.
Work began on the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) in Marston Road in 2002 and it was originally hoped it would be ready two years later.
But delays in funding and problems with building work have pushed the grand opening back.
From the new academic year, beginning in September, the centre will begin moving from its current home in George Street to the new one.
Registrar Richard Makepeace said: “Things are running a little bit behind as they often do but I very much hope that at the beginning of the next academic year we will begin to move across.
“We will soon be giving thought to packing things up. By the end of the academic year we would hope to be completely in the new building, but I have said that before.
“I’m very pleased the building work is near an end.
“There is a great deal of work being done on the interior and a large portion of the building will be fully complete in the next couple of months.”
Mr Makepeace, a former British diplomat in Cairo, admitted he had given some thought to an opening ceremony but said it was too early to say what it might consist of.
OCIS was set up in 1985 as an independent centre of Oxford University.
Its new building, on a 3.25-acre site by the River Cherwell, will feature a mosque, minaret, auditorium, dining hall and accommodation for about 40 graduate students, as well as parking.
Prince Charles is a patron of the centre and helped to design the garden.
Last year it was given a Royal Charter by the Queen.
It was originally expected to cost about £60m but time and inflation has meant the price increased. Work on the centre stopped when the trustees found they were £25m short.
Mr Makepeace said: “We will not know how much the building will have cost until it is done.”
He said a decision had not yet been taken about what will happen to the centre’s current city centre home, and he did not expect anything to happen until they are “fully established” in the Marston Road building.