A DILAPIDATED outdoor centre in Oxford is set to undergo a £10m revamp under plans to "inspire the next generation of scientists".

The Oxford Trust wants to transform the Stansfeld Outdoor Education Centre, in Headington Quarry, into the UK's first purpose-built hub for primary school science.

As well as an indoor centre, it would take advantage of the 18-acre site's sprawling woodland, ponds, marshland and meadows to give children and families "hands-on" lessons about ecology.

The trust said a so-called innovation centre would also be built to provide office space for start-up firms and entrepreneurs. The centre will create 260 jobs. 

Chief executive Steve Burgess said it was hoped the site, which was closed in July 2015, could be reopened by April 2018 if planning permission was granted.

He added: "We want to inspire the next generation of scientists through curiosity-driven learning.

"Children will be able to explore and engage, rather than just reading notes in a classroom.

"There will be nowhere else in the country like it."

Plans revealed by the trust, which runs Science Oxford and the Oxford Innovation Centre in New Road, would see it demolish existing buildings at the Stansfeld centre and replace them with two new ones cladded in wood.

The science and education centre would focus on primary school science and the Wood Centre for Innovation, next door, would house start-up companies and entrepreneurs, with links to nearby Oxford Brookes University and Oxford University campuses and the other innovation centre in the city centre.

The woodland would be managed by the Sylva Foundation, which shares its founders, Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Wood, with the Oxford Trust.

The education centre would be open from Tuesdays to Saturdays, running school visits on weekdays and some evening activities. Family events would be held on Saturdays.

Mr Burgess said it would also host pre-arranged visits from local groups such as Cub Scouts and Brownies, with an on-site café and theatre available for local people to use.

At an exhibition of the plans on Wednesday evening, visitors said they were generally impressed by the scheme.

Mum-of two Bea Searle, of Wilberforce Street, said: "It's got such an amazing amount of woodland. What I have seen looks really good."

Darren Burnett, whose Stansfield Close home overlooks the site, said he was pleased his two daughters would be able to visit the centre.

The 44-year-old added: "I am very impressed by what I have seen."

County councillor for Headington and Quarry Roz Smith said: "I have been pleasantly surprised. My only concern is about how traffic coming to the site will be managed, although I understand that vehicles will need permission to do that."

The trust, which acquired the lease for the site in January, said it hoped to lodge plans formally with Oxford City Council this summer.