WORK has begun on a new sixth form building in North Oxford, less than four months after the site was hit by an arson attack.

Designs have been released for D'Overbroeck's new boarding house in Banbury Road, with the scheme on track to be completed next year.

It is part of major expansion project which will also see the former Masonic Lodge opposite transformed into a sixth form centre with five science laboratories, a library, school hall and a 180-seater auditorium that will be made available for community use.

In March the former care home site at 376 Banbury Road was targeted in a suspected arson attack. Almost 50 firefighters tackled the blaze.

However, headteacher Sami Cohen said the fire would not delay development, which is expected to be completed by September 2017.

Less than the four months on, the school has said its "ambitious" project has finally begun.

D'Overbroeck's marketing and communications manager Fiona Tarrant said the building would be a welcome addition to the area.

She said: "City council planning officers were keen for the new building to have a striking and bold design, which would positively enhance the architectural appearance of this part of Banbury Road.

"The architects, TSH Architects, who also designed the new sixth form teaching site, complied with both Oxford city planners and the design review panel's wishes and the two buildings complement each other and represent an exciting new phase for the school."

She said the new accommodation would have high quality, modern and comfortable en suit rooms and would open alongside the sixth form teaching site in September 2017.

The building will be home to 60 sixth form students during term time with a boys' house on one side and a girls' house on the other, connected by communal space in the middle.

The school and landowners Carnegie Estates won planning permission for the project to extend teaching space and boarding capacity in February 2015.

Doubts were raised over the scheme when the landowners put the site up for sale later that year.

A deal was finally struck earlier this year for the former Masonic Lodge, with details for the boarding house at 376 Banbury Road finalised last week.