IT'S quite possibly the biggest sign of the times in Oxford yet.

Four years ago, the huge council-owned building at 1-3 George Street was deemed such an out-of-date monstrosity that the only thing to do with it was demolish the entire thing and build a brand new building there from scratch.

Then the council quietly admitted that it simply couldn't afford to do that, and now it's made a complete U-turn on the whole original decision and said 'the more the merrier! Come one, come all – don't worry about the ageing architecture, just pull up a chair and get to work!'

You can imagine what the 'affordable and innovative' workspaces the council is now planning to set up there in just a few months will look like – this is not going to be state-of-the-art stuff.

The reason is simple – our council needs money, and it needs it fast: with the coronavirus making a massive black hole in its finances, the council desperately needs to fill that black hole in order to run the services we rely on it for – housing people; collecting the bins; running the planning system – the list goes on.

Let's hope the planning department like the 'innovative workspaces' plan.