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Social club divides opinion with plan to bulldoze hall
A STRUGGLING social club in West Oxford could bulldoze its hall and replace it with homes in order to stay in business.
The West Oxford Democrats Club on Osney Island has applied to Oxford City Council for planning permission to replace the hall with three homes.
Club bosses say the hall, built as an extension to the original club building last century, is redundant and at risk of falling into disrepair.
They want to build one two-bedroom and two three-bedroom homes, with parking and workshop space beneath them, in its place, and turn some of the existing car parking into gardens.
Susanna Pressel, Labour city councillor for Jericho and Osney, said the bid had sparked a mixed response from neighbours.
She said: “There is a lot of local concern, although a few people have been impressed by the plans for the houses.
“There are worries about various issues and the island is quite polarised, with most people against it.”
Ms Pressel said some residents opposed the modern look of the proposed new homes and were concerned they would not fit in with the rest of the island.
But she said she was reserving judgement until she had heard the views of more constituents.
She said: “Councillors are allowed to form their own opinions and I’m not on the planning committee, so I’m lucky in that respect.
“I have already written to the officers about this and called it in, so it will be determined by the planning committee.
“Residents do often hold public meetings in the hall – it’s been a convenient place for us and we would be sorry to lose it.”
A report to the council from architects lapd ltd, acting on behalf of the Democrats Club committee, said: “Number one North Street has been occupied by a social club for many years and at its peak during the late-1970s hosted many events within the main building and the attached 20th century hall.
“The club is an important and vital part of the community in this area. However, more recently the popularity of shows and events has waned, so the modern hall has become redundant and is starting to fall into a state of disrepair.
“The club is fighting to stay on the site while meeting increasing costs for the upkeep of the site.
“It has now come to the point where the viability of the club is in question and they need to use the site more efficiently to enable the continuity of the club on-site.”
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