'MUCH needed' new council house plans for Oxford have been revealed after five years of design work with locals.

Plans to build a total of 26 flats on Collins Street and Princes Street, East Oxford, were unveiled at East Oxford Community Centre on Tuesday.

The scheme has been met with a mixed response, with some residents and tenants of the community centre worried about overcrowding and noise complaints from the new neighbours.

The Collins Street site is currently occupied by East Oxford Games Hall, and would be replaced by 14 one- and two-bedroom flats in four-storey block, which would be sold under shared-ownership with the council.

The Princes Street site is connected to the rear of the community centre, and would be made up of 12 one- and two-bedroom flats in a three-storey block, rented out as new council houses.

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There are also plans to expand the community centre as part of the scheme, and final versions of these plans were also revealed after five years of work between the council and residents.

Marie Tidball, the city council cabinet member for communities, said: “New housing is much needed in East Oxford, and this is an integral part of enabling the redevelopment of the community centre.

"We are committed to providing a mix of housing that meets local need, with an aspiration to meet the latest low-carbon standards.”

Oxford Mail:

There are currently 2,645 households on the waiting list for council homes in Oxford.

A total 1,023 of those waiting are existing tenants who have asked to be moved to different kinds of homes, as their families have grown or their needs have changed.

But some people who use the community centre are worried there is not enough room for all the new groups.

This is because the council also has plans to demolish a building used by Film Oxford on Catherine Street, and move the organisation into the community centre.

Oxford Mail:

How the community centre would look when extended. To the right of the picture are new council flats. Picture: Oxford City Council.

Pat Green, a tenant of the community centre, said plans to build affordable council flats next door to the community centre could lead to noise complaints, as the centre is used all hours of the day.

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Ms Green said: “It is just going to be a matter of time before the people living there clash with the centre.

“Because there are events at the community centre morning, noon and night; children’s parties, dance groups; what has not been taken into consideration is people talking, moving around, and going outside to smoke and talk.”

She also said she was worried that a space for people to spend time relaxing could be lost if more groups and organisations are moved into the building, and suggested that if plans do go ahead a ‘talking space’ needed to be created.

Oxford Mail:

Residents inspect the plans. Picture: Ed Nix.

Caroline Gibbs, an East Oxford resident who visits the centre regularly, said she thought there may not be enough room for all the groups when they were rehoused in the building.

Ms Gibbs said: “Our community resources are limited as it is, since the past 10 years.

“We realise how vitally important they are in bringing up a young generation. What I am saying is they are taking part of this away is what will happen and as a result of that we will see a lot more young people on the streets.”

Oxford Mail:

A city council spokesman said five years of work had gone into making sure plans for the community centre were suitable for everyone using the building.

They added: "Most recently we have held three consultation events to engage the wider community, all which have been well attended.

"The refurbishment and extension of the centre has been designed to be a more flexible space with multi-use, partitionable and sharable rooms, which will enable more community activities, events and groups in East Oxford to use the centre.”

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More opposition to the plans came from East Oxford Community Association, a group which supports people who live in the east of the city.

A statement from the association said it 'opposed the loss of community space' at the community building, as the area designated for council houses is replacing an area where another community use building once stood.

The charity said it wanted to ‘halt the current process’ so other sites for new council housing could be found.

Oxford Mail:

The different council house sites highlighted. Clockwise from top left: Princes Street, Collins Street and Catherine Street. Picture: Google Maps.

Oxford City Council’s Green group suggested one site where new council houses could be built is at the site of a vacant council building on Cave Street.

A statement from Green councillor Dick Wolff said that the Cave Street site was earmarked for small business units, which he said could have been housed in East Oxford Community Centre instead.

In 2018, the expected budget for building the new council houses and extending the community centre was £10.6 million.

The city council has shown plans to extend the community several times since they were first put forward in 2017, and they have been changed to reflect opinions given during consultation events.

There are also ongoing council house building schemes in Barton and Rosehill.