VOLUNTEERS are being sought to help turn an unloved space in Jericho into a garden.

The Jericho Community Association has been given permission to create a garden outside the Old School building in Walton Street.

Somerville College, which owns the building, has allowed the scheme to go ahead and funding has come from an Oxfordshire County Council pot.

Phyllis Starkey, a committee member of the community association and former leader of Oxford City Council, is behind the idea.

She said: “We wrote to Somerville, who own it, after the Co-op next door opened and the scaffolding was removed and we asked if the college might think about improving it slightly because it contributes to the streetscape.

“They said they wouldn’t but they have given us permission to do it ourselves, and we have been given £150 from the county council via our local councillor, Susanna Pressel.

“There is virtually no greenery in Walton Street. There is the odd tree but not much really and this space is an opportunity to bring in some greenery.”

Her group is hoping to remove the weeds and put in plants such as lavender.

Ms Pressel said: “I was very happy to provide some funding from my county councillor community budget for this excellent project. I look forward to helping with the preparation and planting too. Everyone who lives or works in Jericho and every passer-by will benefit from this.

“I'm sure it will gladden our hearts to see this rather scruffy spot transformed into a beautiful garden, thanks to the vision of these public-spirited volunteers.”

Bedford House School was opened on May 22, 1875. It closed in 1930, and was used as a Somerville College lecture room until the mid-1950s.

In the 1970s it housed a Sunday school for St Paul’s Church, now Freud’s bar.

College spokesman Alex Monro said: “The Jericho Community Association was keen to do something with the space, which is currently unused, and we appreciated the suggestion, since it enables the site to be well-used by our local community.

“We very much look forward to seeing the results.”