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College announces £6m plan for city centre campus
OXFORD & Cherwell Valley College has unveiled a £6m plan to redevelop its city centre campus.
A new riverfront cafe, hair and beauty salon and river walkway are all part of the scheme, aimed at attracting more people through the doors.
The college has been given nearly £2m by the Government under its enhanced renewal grant scheme, and is also planning to invest £4m of its own cash to carry out the plans in Oxpens Road.
Three years ago the college had more ambitious plans for a £60m scheme that would have completely redeveloped the college site, half of which was sold off as part of the long-awaited Westgate shopping centre redevelopment.
But the scheme was heavily dependent on a substantial contribution from the LSC, the Government quango that called a halt to building at 79 further education colleges, after running out of funding in 2009.
The college hopes to submit detailed plans for its new development in January.
Work could start as early as next August, and open in September 2014.
Principal Sally Dicketts said: “Our Oxford campus enjoys a prime position in the centre of the city.
“We want to maximise the location by attracting more people in to see what the college has to offer.
“Not only will this increase our links with the local community but it will also benefit our students in giving them greater exposure to a broader range of customers.”
The majority of the work will be internal, with a new facade added to the building and a new main reception created.
The existing hair and beauty salon is tucked away on the second floor. The plan is to move it to a prominent ground-floor site.
College property director Phil Waddup said: “To all intents and purposes it will be a realistic commercial hair salon.
“We recognise the building itself is tired and we need to make the most of it, so it will get a complete refurbishment and a facade which will make the whole building a lot smarter.
“The public will see a fantastic new approach to the college and benefit from a river walk which will link Oxpens Road by the ice rink, across our site and across to the west end of the city.”
The walkway will include a new exhibition space.
Mr Waddup said creating a new hair and beauty salon, increased public access and a new reception had been the college’s “number one aim” for some time.
He said: “It would have taken us longer had we not achieved this grant and it probably would have reduced the scope of what we were able to do.”
About 10,000 students attend the Oxpens campus, which countywide is Oxfordshire’s largest provider of further education training.