A RESIDENTS’ group is considering making a bid for an outdoor education centre in Oxford in order to save it.

Headington’s Friends of Quarry hopes to put in a bid for the centre or may liaise between potential buyers of Stansfeld Outdoor Education Centre and its owner, Birmingham City Council, to secure the future of the facility where thousands of young people have visited over the years.

Friends’ co-ordinator Jennifer Carpenter said so far there had been little negotiation with the authority.

The city council would have to tell Friends of Quarry once the facility went up for sale as the group was behind it being registered as a community asset.

Ms Carpenter, of Quarry High Street, said: “I have no idea what influence we will have, but never say die.

“It’s possible now that we are looking at putting in a bid of our own if it goes on the open market.”

Last week a public meeting saw an ‘overwhelming’ show of support to save the centre from closure, Ms Carpenter said.

She added: “The overwhelming decision at that meeting is that we should continue with it as a residential outdoor education centre.

“We believe that interest has been expressed by schools in Birmingham and if possible we will try to broker some sort of deal along those lines.”

Oxford City Council registered the centre as a community asset in June after lobbying from Friends of Quarry.

This means potential buyers had an extra six months to put together their bid, though Birmingham City Council will decide who to sell it to.

Ms Carpenter said: “We need to contact the organisations which have contacted Birmingham to find out exactly what that interest is and how serious they are.”

Rev Canon John Stansfeld, vicar of St Ebbe’s from 1912 to 1926 set the facility up in the 1920s before donating the land to Birmingham in 1933.

Most of the the 17.5-acre site is marsh and woodland, but there is a small developed area with residential and teaching blocks.

Large parts of it are designated as being important to nature conservation and protected from development.

Roz Smith, Oxfordshire county councillor for Headington and Quarry, said: “I would like to see an organisation take it on and keep the outdoor education service just as we have enjoyed all these years.

“Rev Stansfeld would turn in his grave if it was put on the market for housing development.”

Birmingham City Council said it had received “numerous” enquires about the site which will be advertised on the open market.

Money from its sale would pay for a programme to support vulnerable children.


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