A NEW multi-million pound science education centre is a step closer to reality after a construction company was appointed.

The new centre will replace the former Stansfeld Education Centre at Stansfeld Park in Headington Quarry, Oxford.

Oxford-based construction firm Beard has been handed a £5.6m contract to build the centre, which will feature the UK's first indoor-outdoor science education centre for primary school-aged children, their teacher and families.

The project is being developed by The Oxford Trust, an independent charitable trust that aims to encourage the pursuit of science and enterprise.

Beard Oxford construction manager Bill Taylor said: "We are proud to be working on such an important educational project in the heart of our own city.

"As a company, we are strongly committed to providing opportunities for young people to learn and explore the world around them, inspiring them to follow careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

"When completed in autumn next year, this facility will become a valued centre for aiding and inspiring young people, as well as providing support for entrepreneurs at the other end of the spectrum.

"We look forward to working with The Oxford Trust on this scheme."

Set in 18 acres of woodland the development will see the construction of the Science Oxford Educational Centre which will offer opportunities for children aged four to 12.

It will also contain the Wood Centre for Innovation, a 25,000sq ft innovation space for entrepreneurs and innovative businesses working in science and technology.

The education centre will be one-storey and will contain two classrooms separated by a folding wall, interactive exhibition space and outdoor amenity area.

The Wood Centre will have 24 offices, four meeting rooms, a co-working area and a kitchenette over two storeys.

Beard will also build an on-site cafe and a flexible 100-seat theatre with a green 'living wall' front facade which will see planting incorporated into the building's structure.

It has been designed Oxford-based ADP Architecture.

The Oxford Trust director of operations Matt Francis said: "We are delighted to have appointed Beard to build this new development for us.

"It's an exciting time in the trust's 30-year history as the science education centre and innovation centre will enable us to engage with more young people about science and increase the impact of everything we do."

The centre was approved by planning officers at Oxford City Council in February and it is hoped it will open in September 2018.