Groups aim to register outdoor education site as community asset

11:00am Saturday 5th April 2014

A BID is being made to use new planning laws to slow any potential sale of a Headington outdoor centre that has been earmarked for closure.

Community groups are set to try to register Stansfeld Outdoor Education Centre as an asset of community value with Oxford City Council.

Owner Birmingham City Council wants to close the centre at the end of July because it needs to make £340 million cuts.

The centre off Quarry Road, Headington, offers county and Birmingham youngsters residential courses and facilities like football.

Stansfeld Outdoor Education Centre was created by the Rev Canon John Stansfeld, a parish priest, doctor and philanthropist Vicar of St Ebbe’s from 1912 to 1926.

He used the money he had been saving for a trip to the Holy Land to buy 20 acres of land off Quarry Road to give the children from the ‘St Ebbe’s slums’ a chance of camping in the countryside at the weekend. He donated the land to Birmingham in 1933.

If Oxford City Council accepts it as an asset of community value then any sale can be on hold for up to six months so that concerned residents can raise cash to buy it.

However, the final decision on who to sell it to will still rest with the owner. Community group Friends of Quarry will meet on Monday at Quarry Village Hall to finalise the asset bid with a decision then expected within six weeks.

Organiser Jenifer Carpenter said: “We were very pleased by the turnout at the public meeting. But we will have to demonstrate that it does have a value to the community and that the community can make sure it offers the same sort of value in the future. Nobody wants to see it sold off to building developers.”

Risinghurst and Sandhills Parish Council fear the land will be sold for housing but Birmingham chiefs have not commented on whether they will sell it.

Oxfordshire County Council member for Headington & Quarry Roz Smith said: “It is important that we register it as a community asset because none of the planning policies will save it from developers. We really need to work this out together as a community.

“Stansfeld is so important for the school children in the Oxford and Birmingham area. They all use the centre to build fires and play games.”

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