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School sets dates for £15m concert hall project
WORK on a new £15m concert hall and music school for the city is set to begin in 2015, it has been announced.
Architects have begun design work on the £9m hall, to include space for a full orchestra, at St Edward’s School, North Oxford.
And work is expected to begin on the music school in two years’ time. It is expected to take a year and work would then begin on the hall.
Warden Stephen Jones said the school wanted current work on its £4m boarding house to finish in September before taking a “rest”.
The music school would then open in September 2016 though no opening date has been fixed for the concert hall.
Mr Jones said: “It is an exciting plan and we would rather see it happen than not. Oxford has waited centuries for a concert hall.”
A planning application for the music school is scheduled for June.
The hall is planned for the site of the former Lemon Tree restaurant and neighbouring land currently used by Jack FM radio station.
He said: “We have felt there were multiple solutions to issues like parking and both councils seemed to go along with that, at least in principle.
“The drawings I have seen for the concert hall are just superb. It is a serious piece of building.”
Concert-goers could use public transport and parking but the school is exploring setting up its own park and ride, he said.
He hopes it will mirror the success of the North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, which is used by the school and community.
The school has launched a major fundraising drive to pay for the work.
It hopes the hall will be used by international orchestras as well as young musicians from Oxford University and Oxfordshire’s County Music Service.
He said: “The reason this scheme has any legs is because the concert hall is of value to the school.
“It doesn’t need to stand as a business in its own right but we are currently working out that business plan because we need to know how much of a market there is.
“It would have to pay enough of its way to be viable.”
He said: “We have started to get on side a few people for whom this project would make a difference and most of them have been very encouraged.”