Plans for former community centre face growing opposition
RESIDENTS opposed to plans to redevelop the former Cowley Community Centre with 40 new homes are stepping up their campaign.
The scheme is part of a joint Oxford City Council and Haboakus development proposal for three city sites backed by developer Kevin McCloud, the presenter of Channel 4’s Grand Designs.
But members of the Middle Cowley Residents’ Action Group, MCRAG, say the proposed building in Barns Road at four storeys would be too high, would cause problems with overlooking, and provides insufficient community space.
They are also concerned the scheme, which is proposed as a car-free development, would exacerbate existing parking problems in the area.
MCRAG chairman Martin Tasker, who lives in Boswell Road, met with Oxford City Council leader Bob Price and local county and city councillors last week to discuss his concerns.
He is now urging people to attend a public meeting at the Ark T Centre, John Bunyan Baptist Church, Crowell Road, tonight at 7pm.
Mr Tasker said: “In terms of the community facilities, all we are getting is one room that is capable of holding 30 people and it hasn’t even got a bar — it’s not the community centre we had before.
“All the people around here are also up in arms about the plan not to have any parking.”
The group, which has 120 members, has handed out flyers around Cowley about the proposa, calling on people to object to it in its current form.
Mr Tasker said: “A lot of people will be going there to put their objections in in person and say they aren’t happy and they need to rethink it.”
Mr Price could not comment on the planning issues, which would be decided by a planning committee in the coming months, and said the amount of community space proposed was in response to consultation carried out several years ago after the demolition of the former Cowley Community Centre.
But he said: “We had a good discussion about the operation of the community centre and I have started discussions internally in the council about how that’s going to operate so a genuine committee from the community can handle the affairs of the centre.
“I am pretty certain we can do that.”
He pointed out there had been substantial consultation with residents since the plans were first mooted.
Marita Ford, Haboakus Oxford project manager, said: “We are pleased to now have the opportunity to present the proposals we have submitted for planning approval to interested local residents and councillors. “Our design team will be on hand to answer queries and explain why we believe the schemes will greatly benefit the community.”
The other Haboakus sites are at Dora Carr Close and Westfield Drive, Northway.