MORE than a year after designs were unveiled to redevelop East Oxford Community Centre the scheme is finally set to move forward.

The £10.6m project, which includes housing and redevelopment of the Princes Street community centre, Film Oxford and the East Oxford Games Hall sites, was originally revealed in its current form in December 2017.

But despite being expected to be approved last February progress stalled on the scheme.

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A city council spokesman has said the delay was due to Oxfordshire County Council and the authority being in discussions in 2018 about the possibility of ‘including an element of the county’s community-based activities’, as well as the city’s community and art services, at the site.

However, ‘following detailed exploratory work’ with the county council, both authorities ultimately decided the idea was not viable.

The council's East Oxford Community Centre project team will now use the original 2017 concept plans as the basis for working up detailed, and formally-costed, designs.

They intend to seek formal approval from the city executive board in the spring.

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As part of the plan, the Fusion Arts building would be demolished and replaced by a two-storey building for community use. An improved outdoor space would also be built.

The scheme would also see the old school building refurbished, and another new two-storey buildings created for film and music studios, offices and community space.

Student housing was intended for the site but this was changed, along with an increased budget, to approximately 30 houses built by the council’s housing company. Critics of the plans have said it would mean that a large chunk of the centre would be lost. But the council maintains that only eight per cent of the floorspace of the centre would go and that the centre will be more flexible to use.

The redevelopment is necessary due to the poor condition of many of the current buildings.

B Block, to the rear of the East Oxford Community Centre site, was demolished last month after being condemned by an inspector in April 2018.

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The rest of the community centre, however, continues to operate as normal.

Christine Simm, executive board member for culture and communities, said: “The redevelopment of East Oxford Community Centre is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver a facility that meets the needs of residents now and into the future and, as we have always said, we want to make sure we get it right.

"We have been keeping community centre users informed at every stage as the project develops, and we will continue to do so as we move ahead to creating a new and modern community space in East Oxford.”