DEMOLISHING Rose Hill’s ageing community centre and replacing it with a new one is not a done deal, according to Oxford City Council ’s deputy leader Ed Turner.
He spoke out after the council started consulting residents about the possibility of building a new community centre in Ashhurst Way.
A new centre would cost about £1m, including £435,000 of contributions from developers, and would replace the existing community centre in The Oval.
Mr Turner, the Labour city councillor for Rose Hill and Iffley, said: “There is no point spending scarce public resources on a facility the public does not want.”
On Monday, the council hosted a Rose Hill Area Forum at the centre to ask residents what they thought of the proposals.
Bill Buckingham, who is in his 90s, is a former Labour city councillor, and lives on the estate.
As secretary of Rose Hill Community Centre Association, which runs the centre, Mr Buckingham said he was opposed to the building being demolished.
He said: “This centre in The Oval was built in about 1956.
“It is very well used and its position here in The Oval means it is right in the heart of the community.
“There’s a good bar here, a big stage and room for dances in the hall and upstairs there are good facilities for young people.
“All the buses stop in The Oval and I believe this is the best location for a community centre and I am concerned that all the facilities we have here would not be provided in the new centre.
“This place could be modernised with toilets and a new heating system and I would prefer that option to demolition.
“Hundreds of people use this centre including lots of ethnic minorities. It would be a great shame to see it go.”
County councillor for Cowley and Littlemore Gill Sanders added: “The association is very keen to keep the existing centre.”
If the new centre does go ahead, it would incorporate the sports pavilion and advice centre and some new housing.
Then once the community centre in The Oval was demolished, new housing would be built in its place.
Mr Turner explained the proposal to build a new community centre on the site of the existing Rose Hill and Donnington advice centre was being highlighted in a survey delivered to 1,000 homes.
He added: “The existing community centre is well-loved in the heart of the community and I’ve got loads of respect for the people who volunteer to run it.
“That’s a high hurdle for the new centre to meet, but some people have told me they think a new centre would be a good idea.
“Capital receipts from new housing on the new site would be ploughed into the new centre.”
Members of the public will be invited on Saturday, November 17, to the community centre in The Oval, from 10am to 8pm, to see architects’ plans for the new centre, and then vote on their preferred option.
Mr Turner added: “I would expect the council to make a decision on this by the end of the year.
“But we are not imposing a new centre on the people of Rose Hill.”