THREE potential buyers for a closed-down outdoor centre for children have left campaigners “quietly optimistic” it could reopen.

Oxford Cohousing, Science Oxford and an unnamed care provider have all made bids on the Stansfeld Outdoor Education Centre, which closed last July.

The Headington-based centre was used by schoolchildren from Oxfordshire and Birmingham to learn about the outdoors and forestry.

The Friends of Stansfeld group said it had been speaking to the three organisations bidding to buy the centre and was “quietly optimistic” that the site could reopen.

Chairman of the group Richard Bradley, 68, said: “Speaking to the bidders for the site, we’ve had a very helpful dialogue.

"We hope that there will be a forestry school for children to use.

“But what we’re most concerned about is having the site there to use for years to come.

"We want to look further into the future.”

The Stansfeld Outdoor Education Centre closed last July when Birmingham City Council, which owns the property, said that it would be putting the 18-acre site on the market.

The bids for the centre have not been disclosed and Birmingham City Council has not given a guide price for the plot.

Among the three bidders shortlisted for the site is Oxford Cohousing, a group that wants to build houses on the site that the education centre sits on and maintain the woodland for the community.

Cohousing is a set of purpose-built houses where residents work together as a co-operative to share childcare, cooking and gardening, and socialise as a collective.

Another bidder, Science Oxford, plans on “embracing the legacy of the existing centre” and using it as a base to teach children.

Science Oxford was set up as a charity in 1985 and over the last 30 years has worked in outreach, teaching more children about science outside a formal, classroom environment.

Chairman Dr John Boyle said: “The Oxford Trust [which finances Science Oxford] would like to give the Stansfeld Outdoor Learning Centre an exciting new lease of life – integrating a brand new science education centre for schools, families and the local community with an innovation centre which supports the up-and-coming science businesses in our region alongside targeted residential capacity.”

Stansfeld was set up in 1933 by Canon John Stansfeld, a parish priest, doctor and philanthropist and vicar of St Ebbe’s in Oxford from 1912 to 1926.

He donated the land to the children of Birmingham to allow them to have an outdoor retreat.

The formal bidding process will end on September 5 and the successful bidder will be announced by Birmingham City Council in due course.

To read more about the different proposed plans for the site visit