Work is soon to begin on the delivery of hundreds of affordable homes and community facilities across Blackbird Leys, Oxford, after formal planning permission was granted by the city council.
The council’s planning committee approved plans to carry out the redevelopment in August, following more than four years of engagement with the Blackbird Leys community, and more than 1,500 pieces of feedback from local residents and stakeholders.
The plans by housing association Peabody (formerly Catalyst), and development partner Oxford City Council include 294 homes across two sites, which will help to tackle the city’s housing shortage.
A new district centre will include 210 homes, 83% of which (174) will be for social or affordable rent, and 17% (36) for shared ownership. A further 84 houses for shared ownership will be built at Knights Road.
Simon Barry, managing director, development, at Peabody said: “We’ve come a long way since we first engaged with the community in 2019 about our proposals for Blackbird Leys, so I’m delighted to now see work beginning on site. This marks a critical step forward in our programme to rejuvenate this area with much-needed affordable homes and purpose-built high-quality public spaces.
“The next stage is to finalise our plans for the community centre, and we’ve had brilliant conversations with local residents and organisations over the past few months – that’s thanks to the fantastic energy of this community. We’re looking forward to building on this as we move through the final design stage.”
Councillor Linda Smith, the council’s cabinet member for housing, added: “The start of construction work on site is a major milestone in the long history of this project. Some people believed we’d never get to this stage, and the current difficulties in construction and property development mean it’s taken more time and lots of hard work to get here.
“I’d like to thank local people for bearing with us over the years as the scheme was paused and re-started and the vision for a new district centre for Blackbird Leys was developed. We now have work commencing on a scheme which will deliver nearly 300 much-needed new affordable homes, modern shops and a brand-new community centre, which will be a big boost for residents of Blackbird Leys.”
The district centre is also set to provide new high-quality facilities to support the Blackbird Leys community and others that live and work in the local area. This will include green spaces, shops and a community centre, as well as improved roads with a segregated cycle route.
With planning permission secured and agreements now finalised, the project’s contractor Hill has begun preparation work on site, including putting up hoardings at the existing community centre and Evenlode Tower parking and garages. Demolition will begin shortly, with the old community centre expected to be taken down at the end of the month.
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