A MULTI-million pound regeneration project to transform Blackbird Leys has been launched.
For the first time, Oxford City Council has brought in specialist help to ask residents what improvements they would most like to see on Oxford’s biggest estate.
The Prince’s Foundation charity will work with the council and local community groups for the next year to help produce a blueprint for the estate, which will involve changes to housing, transport, parking and parks.
Despite a history of council consultations on the Leys, yesterday the council’s regeneration boss promised “action rather than words”.
Executive director of city regeneration David Edwards said: “We think now is the right time to invest in Blackbird Leys.
“We see the regeneration of the estate as a priority and it is something we want to do properly.
“So instead of coming in and saying ‘this is what we are doing’, we are asking people what they want and making sure we get smaller projects done quickly, to gain credibility and momentum for the larger projects.”
Mr Edwards said a “significant amount of money” would be set aside for the regeneration from the council’s budget, including £2m for the refurbishment of the two tower blocks Windrush and Evenlode.
Funding will then be allocated on a project-by-project basis, subject to the results of the consultations.
Initial ideas include an overhaul of parking on the estate, tackling match day parking issues and parking on verges, and the opening up of the entrances to Greater Leys for better access. This could mean changes to Frys Hill and Brake Hill.
The first in a three-day process of workshops started yesterday, attended by city and parish councillors, groups from the Blackbird Leys Community Centre and the Church of the Holy Family.
Prince’s Foundation urban programme manager Biljana Savic said: “The buildings around there were built in the 1950s and it needs work. In the 1990s, Greater Leys was built and the centre doesn’t reflect that the estate doubled in size.”
Members of the Prince’s Foundation will return in early December to draw up more detailed plans.
The Blackbird Leys Parish Council said they backed the plans, but expressed some scepticism.
Vice-chairman Brian Lester said: “We could fill the Bodleian Library with all the consultations we’ve had on this estate.
“It’s action we want to see.”
WORKSHOPS, DROP-IN SESSIONS
A public session will be held at the Leys Leisure Centre from 4pm-7pm tomorrow.
Members of the city council and Prince’s Foundation will be at the Church of the Holy Family today from 1.30pm until 3.30pm and at the leisure centre all day tomorrow.
People are welcome to drop in between these times.
THE PRINCE'S FOUNDATION
The foundation started in 1987 when Prince Charles outlined a ‘Vision for Britain’ in a BBC documentary.
It now works across the world, creating projects to reflect what local people want.
The foundation helps communities create plans for the area, putting them in touch with planners, builders, designs and local authorities.
It is separate from the Prince’s Trust which is a charity which works with young people.