JERICHO WHARF NEWS ITEM

A community survey for a new community space

The development will have the community centre and boatyard on the northern part of the site (left). The commercial housing is on the southern part (right), and between them a small 'piazza'.

We are carrying out a survey as part of the planning process for achieving a new community centre.

Posted - Jun 07, 2021

To complete the survey, please click here

Oxford City Council will shortly consider a fresh planning application for the Jericho Wharf canalside development adjacent to St Barnabas Church. From the outset, over two decades ago, the City Council and key stakeholders have shared the vision that this site should accommodate, alongside the new housing, our long-awaited accessible community centre, a new boatyard serving the canal and boat residents and a public square. 

With public services, affordable leisure and exercise facilities hard-pressed, it is encouraging that the City Council appears to remain committed to this being a mixed-use partnership development with community interest, industry and activity at its heart: a meaningful regeneration in every sense. 

Now, as part of the planning process, The Jericho Wharf Trust and Jericho Community Association have been asked to remind Council of the need for this new community centre and the opportunities it represents – replacing the current premises, deemed not fit for purpose 20 years ago. In doing so we will also remind the Council of how it will help local and city-wide communities to thrive: celebrating the heritage of the area and adding vitality, longevity to this landmark scheme.

Many of you may have lent your voice to earlier propositions and deeper consultations may follow in the months to come but for now please help us by taking a few minutes to complete a short survey. Your response will demonstrate how much these new facilities are needed

You can do so now by following this link.

The proposed new community centre will include:

  • Hall – A multi-purpose hall, for sport, exercise and events.
  • Exercise and dance – A space for dance and fitness classes.
  • Café – A lively meeting place for the community that will open out into a public square and the Oxford canal.
  • Pre-school – A dedicated pre-school space with a secure outdoor play area.
  • Heritage – Installations, skills sessions, and activities to illuminate the industrial, artistic and social history of Jericho and the canal.
  • Workspaces – Rooms that can be rented by artists or musicians, or by local businesses and charities.
  • Business hub – Flexible workspaces with internet and office facilities.

You can see the full plans for the development on the City Council’s planning website  Enter the search term 20/01276/FUL.

A brief overview of the planning application

The southern part of the site – Here the developer will build commercial housing. The developer is also proposing to convert the existing community centre in Canal Street to affordable housing.

The northern part of the site – This will have the community facilities – the boatyard and the community centre. The developer has allowed for the development northern part of the site in two phases. 

Phase one – This would include the boatyard and the first half of the community centre. In the image at the bottom of this page this corresponds to the left-hand side of the building up to the circular ‘porthole’ window. On the ground floor would be the café, and on the first floor over the boatyard two halls, with a couple of small offices for counseling and other services.

Phase two – This adds the following

  1. Ground floor – A preschool, with external play space.
  2. First floor – Meeting spaces and office offices for rent.
  3. Top floor – An office hub with flexible working spaces and business services.

The most efficient approach would be to build both phases at the same time. However, if there are not sufficient funds available at the outset, Phase 2 could be added later.

The City Council cannot provide long-term funding for a community centre in Jericho, so these facilities have to be independently sustainable. We are sure they can be. In the early years, Phase 1 on its own would be able to operate as an independent community facility. But would lack a number of facilities such as meeting rooms and music and rehearsal space and be unable to accumulate sufficient funds to set aside for long-term repairs and replacement. 

That is why Phase 2 is critical. Phase 2 will generate sufficient income from renting office and other spaces to build up the sinking fund that would guarantee long-term survival. This is similar to the basis on which the JCA already successfully operates the existing community centre -- the former Church Institute in Canal Street, which is owned by St Barnabas Parochial Church Council. This has two community halls and a small café. On their own they would not be viable, so they are subsidized by the income provided by rooms rented out to charities, low-cost counsellors, and other small businesses. However, this Victorian building is no longer fit for purpose as community centre: it has only limited disabled access and does not provide sufficient space for many activities. That is why we need a new centre – and why we a carrying out a new survey.

To complete the survey, please click here

For more information please see our Q & A and The Story So Far, as well as other pages on this site.

Phase 1 is roughly the left half of the building (as far as the small round window). Phase 2 on the right would complete the building up to Canal Street.