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Groundbreaking and work underway on Blackbird Leys district redevelopment

Blackbird Leys Groundbreaking Pix By Ed Nix 014

Following a groundbreaking ceremony this week, construction is officially underway to deliver new community facilities, shops, and hundreds of affordable homes across Blackbird Leys.

Published: 11/03/2024

Work has started on the Blackbird Leys district centre redevelopment by Peabody and development partner Oxford City Council.

The redevelopment will see 294 new homes delivered in two phases and across two sites. At the heart of the development will be improvements to the district centre, with new high-quality facilities including public open space, shops, a purpose-built community centre, as well as a segregated cycle route.

Preparation work began at the site in January, led by the project's contractor, The Hill Group. This work saw the installation of hoardings following planning approval and finalisation of planning agreements.

Now work at the site is well underway, with the demolition of the old community centre and garages near Evenlode Tower completed, and groundbreaking to start the construction of the regeneration scheme.

The Glow Tree sculpture outside the old community centre has been carefully removed and put into safe storage. Once the redevelopment is complete, it will return to its rightful home outside a new community centre.

About the redevelopment

The new district centre will include 210 homes, 83 percent (174 homes) of which will be for social or affordable rent and 17 percent (36 homes) for shared ownership. A further 84 houses for shared ownership will be built at Knights Road – helping to tackle Oxford’s housing shortage.

Peabody and the Council have been working with local communities to understand their views about the new Blackbird Leys Community Centre and the public space surrounding it, which will be delivered as part of the first phase of the redevelopment.

The Council has carried out over four years of engagement with the Blackbird Leys community and received more than 1,500 pieces of feedback from local residents and stakeholders for the wider regeneration project, which received planning permission in August 2023.

Planning consent for the community centre has been granted in ‘outline’, which means a detailed planning submission for the new community centre and surrounding public space will be submitted this year. Community engagement for this part of the scheme is ongoing, with numerous in-person and online events being held every month.

Along with events, meetings and consultations, the Leys Community Review Panel – made up of local residents – has been set up to communicate the community’s needs to the design team. Peabody and Oxford City Council will soon set out further information about how local people can access opportunities to work on the Blackbird Leys redevelopment project, learn skills in construction, and get involved with artwork on construction hoarding.

Simon Barry, Managing Director Development at Peabody, said:
"This groundbreaking event marks an important step forward in the redevelopment of Blackbird Leys – as we start building hundreds of much-needed affordable homes for the community.

"Oxford is a world-class city, but it’s also one of the most expensive places to live outside London, and this makes the delivery of affordable homes challenging. Together with Oxford City Council, we’ve been working closely with the community since 2019. So it’s great to see the hard work paying off and the plans coming together."

Councillor Linda Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing, Oxford City Council, said: "I am delighted that work is now underway on the new district centre for Blackbird Leys. This is a major milestone in the long history of this project.

“We could not have reached this point without the support and involvement of local residents, and know many in the local community are as excited as I am about this development which will breathe new life into the centre of Blackbird Leys. It will also deliver a stunning new community centre and provide a new affordable home for 174 local families currently on the council's housing register and further opportunities for local people to get on the housing ladder with shared ownership."

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