HUGE plans for an ‘immersive’ 3D cinema and virtual reality racing café at one of Oxford’s main tourist attractions has been unveiled.

Developers hoping to ‘revitalise’ Oxford Castle and Prison have explained in plans to Oxford City Council that “while Oxford continues to be a major draw to tourist visitors, the city lacks a major commercial visitors attraction.”

Oxford Mail:

Gateway Attractions Ltd., the company behind the plans, say a 3D cinema will ‘supplement the more traditional tourist offer’.

The idea is that several retail units inside the Oxford Castle Quarter, which have been empty for a long time, will be revamped into an auditorium.

When it’s built, if plans are approved, the 3D cinema will give ‘presentations’ to paying guests who have to wear futuristic VR headsets. The three shows will be: Under the Oxfordshire skies - planetarium; The Oxford Laserium – laser show; The Oxfordshire Story – a 360 viewing.

Whilst the fitting of a projection screen for the cinema will obstruct the view of the historic stone walls inside, panners say it will not impact the outside character – instead, they say, it will ‘enhance or better reveal’ the former goal.

The 3D cinema is part of a wider plan for Oxford Castle and Prison which has also had several planning applications verified to the council this week.

Another includes plans to build ‘The Fuel Café’ at the site of the old Pizza Express next door.

The café will serve pizza, waffles and crepes on the ground floor.

Upstairs there will be an entertainment lounge with sports video displays and 10 fancy motor racing simulators.

As part of the theme, motor racing simulators will include an exclusive ‘Oxford City Grand Prix’ as well as racing circuits from history and around the world.

Other plans have been put in for more outside seating areas, a zhuzh up of the inside of retail units and more signs outside.

The hopes are that the plans will bring more tourists to the area in the wake of the pandemic. Developers explained: “The city lacks a major commercial visitor attraction.

“In recent years, this has been further compounded with the physical closure of the city’s only Tourist Information Office.

“Gateways Attractions Ltd is a new leisure company that is seeking to fill this gap, taking several long term unlet listed retail units int eh Oxford Castle Quarter, and turning them individually and holistically into a new visitor attraction.

“Sitting alongside the Oxford Castle and Prison, it is hoped that these newly proposed visitor attractions will further revitalise and regenerate the area.”

Oxford Castle originates to the late 11th century and was used as a castle during the medieval period.

It was in a ruinous state by the 14th century and became the common goal of Oxford in 1531.

Hundreds of years later it was extensively rebuilt and enlarged but it closed permanently in 1996.

It was redeveloped into the tourist attraction it is now ‘Oxford Castle Quarter’ which has a hotel, restaurant, and wine bars inside.


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