AFTER six years of waiting, work will finally begin on a major project for a new school and village hall in Bletchingdon.
Work will start next month on the complex in Station Road.
The £3.3m project will replace the 1870s Bletchingdon Primary School, in Weston Road, which will be sold along with the existing village hall in Station Road.
Bletchingdon Community Foundation’s Vikki Robins said: “This project is pretty unique in the UK – it has been driven by and defined by the villagers.”
More than 100 of the village’s 910 residents have been involved in the project, to be completed by next summer for a September 2015 opening, said Mrs Robins.
The foundation has raised a third of the cash through land sales and £40,000 from fundraising including bake sales and business donations. The rest has come from Cherwell District Council, Oxfordshire County Council and The Duchy of Cornwall, which owns the new site.
A further 58 homes are planned for the new site with the first show home expected to open by November.
Mrs Robins said: “We have an excellent school but it is vulnerable because we can’t expand it any further.
“It is an old Victorian building and is expensive to maintain. It is not fit for purpose.
“The village hall is pretty much falling down, it is not used by the people any more. It is not well lit and is expensive to run.
“Community take-up of it has completely dropped off, there is a real disconnect within the village.”
The new school will be in a quadrant style with one side used as a village hall and a secure corridor linking it to the school.
On the site of former farm buildings, the school will provide 120 places compared with 76 now. And the scheme, approved by the district council, will have 18 affordable homes and 40 open market, mostly two- and three-bedroom.
Mrs Robins said: “It will help a lot of second generation families who can’t afford to move out of their parents’ place to have their own home.”
The school has not yet gone on sale and she said any buyer will legally have to keep the outside structure, for example if it was turned into a home.
School chairman of governors Sue Green said: “It is absolutely amazing. We are so lucky to have the opportunity of what will become a wonderful combined school and village hall.”
Planning permission has been given by the council for four terraced homes at the former village hall.
Villagers gathered at the site of the new development on Sunday, June 1, to mark the forthcoming work.
Mrs Robins said: “We had 150 people come to the celebration.
“We had everybody there, from old pupils right through to youngsters playing on hay bales where their new school will be.”
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