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Community has six months to make outdoor centre bid
A BID to sell a city outdoor centre will be put on hold for six months after campaigners won it extra council protection.
Headington’s Stansfeld Outdoor Education Centre – which is set to close next month – has been registered as a community asset by Oxford City Council after the Friends of Quarry Residents Association applied to register the site.
This means there will be a six-month moratorium when owner Birmingham City Council puts it up for sale. This is so any community group interested has time to put together a bid for the centre, though the owner has the final say.
This process must be done due to a law introduced under the Localism Act 2011 and was aimed at stopping the lost of treasured facilities like pubs and shops.
Council head of city development Michael Crofton Briggs said: “The Stansfeld Outdoor Education Centre is clearly a valuable resource to many in the local community. It provides an opportunity for outdoor learning that provides enrichment and personal and social development for many local children.
“The facility is well used by the local community. It provides a valuable learning experience for children from local nursery schools, schools, Scouts and Girl Guides.
“It can therefore be said to further the social wellbeing and interests of the community.”
Liberal Democrat Roz Smith, who represents Headington & Quarry on Oxfordshire County Council, was “delighted” by the news.
She said: “The reason they decided to register it as a community asset is that if it comes on the market a community group may be able to buy it.
“It also sends out a strong message to any developer that the feelings of local people are that we don’t want to see it developed.”
Stansfeld Outdoor Education Centre was established by the Rev Canon John Stansfeld, a parish priest, doctor and philanthropist Vicar of St Ebbe’s from 1912 to 1926. He donated the land to Birmingham in 1933.
Birmingham City Council spokesman Sarah Kirby said: “Birmingham City Council has received numerous interests regarding Stansfeld.
“We have given due consideration to these and have concluded that the need to generate capital receipts to fund an investment programme for the most vulnerable children in Birmingham’s care is the primary driver for the council.
“Accordingly the centres will be offered on the open, unrestricted markets. This does not preclude any party, who have shown an interest in the centres, from engaging in the bidding process .”
Quarry High Street resident Jennifer Carpenter, coordinator of Friends of Quarry, said: “We have set up a steering group and we are holding our first meeting tonight and we will probably make a decision then.
“We are waiting to see what Birmingham will do with it. What we would like is for it to continue roughly as it is.”
Most of the site is designated as a site of local importance to nature conservation (SLINC) and so is protected from development by local and national planning policy – although there is a smaller part that is not protected.