A BUILDING near Oxford station, which has been empty for four years, is being brought back to life as a community hub and shared workspace.

Makespace Oxford is transforming the former Chinese restaurant at Frideswide Square, into a space called The Community Works.

Designed to meet the changing needs of businesses following coronavirus, a token rent has been agreed with owner Nuffield College for three years until December 2022.

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The Community Works in Park End Street will be a mix of work space for social enterprises and meeting space for community groups. The first studio spaces will be available to rent from next month after the building has undergone a major refurbishment by local architects Transition by Design, who are also a founding partner of Makespace Oxford.

Andy Edwards, a director and co-founder of the company which opened its first shared workspace two years ago in Jericho, said: “We are seeing the need for workspace and communities changing rapidly due to Covid-19, and Makespace is looking for the best way to respond to that need.

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"Many local organisations are downsizing and are looking for flexible, affordable space, connected to a community of support, which The Community Works will provide.”

The opening in September is the first step towards the bigger project to renovate the entire building.

Makespace Oxford has already raised £65,000 in grants and plans to raise another £60,000 over the next six months to open up additional spaces in The Community Works.

These will particularly be to support BAME-led organisations and communities impacted by Covid-19 with subsidised work, meeting, and organising space.

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City councillor Richard Howlett praised the project, saying: "It is fantastic news that Makespace Oxford are bringing this empty building in our city centre back to life.

"Using vacant properties for socially beneficial purposes is an important part of how we can ‘build back better’ locally."

He added: "The organisation have done a brilliant job providing space for co-operatives, charities and social enterprises in their current building in North Oxford."