- Site Location: Hertford Street, East Oxford
- Homes: 26
- Mechanism: Cohousing, CLT, Tenant Management Co-operatives
We’re working with the local community to put in a bid for the Irving Building. The much-loved Victorian school building is owned by Cowley St John Parochial Church Council, a local educational charity. It was in full use until July 2015 for forms one to three of St Mary and St John Primary School. In July 2015 the building was closed and in September 2015, these forms joined the rest of the school, at another nearby site on Meadow Lane.
The building will soon be up for sale.
Our vision is to buy the building on behalf of the local community and convert it into a mix of affordable homes and a community hub.Initial plans will be to build a terrace of new homes on Essex Street and to convert much of the existing Irving Building to flats. The Hertford Street side would be kept and transformed into a community-hub and office space.
The ideas for the community-hub and space are under development but include indoor and outdoor space that is both vital and viable, whilst also serving the needs of diverse local groups such as:
- The local nursery school Comper, sometimes needs extra meeting space
- Local start-ups (especially cooperative enterprises) need affordable office space
- Local children could continue to use the former play area
- A place for social gatherings and meetings, to bring the community together
- A café
Irving affordable homes
There will be a dozen or so new homes on the site. At least 50% will be genuinely and permanently affordable. If viable, we will make all of them affordable. Nominations for some of the affordable homes will need to be worked out with the city council. However, for the others we can ensure that local teachers in housing need will have first refusal on some or all of them. It is possible that we will need to sell some homes on the open market to fund the project but our ideal is to keep all of them affordable.
How will the homes remain affordable?
We will use the Land Trust to own the land and a housing coop to own the homes, leasing them to the residents. Both of these things ensure that we can avoid residents having a Right to Buy and this guarantees the homes can’t be sold off into the open market. We can therefore keep them affordable in perpetuity.
How will the project be managed?
We will use the Land Trust to own and develop the site and as this is a community benefit society - it has mechanisms though which the community can be involved, via membership or by joining the Board. The homes will be leased to a housing coop and all the residents will join the housing coop. At the moment, anyone can become a member of the Land Trust (OCLT) which will be the landowner.
What about parking?
We know that parking is a huge problem locally, and the immediate neighbourhood around the old school is often plagued by overspill parking from the adjacent CPZ (Controlled Parking Zone). HfO has plans to deal with this by ensuring there is i) adequate parking on site and ii) restricted car ownership and use by the residents and other users of the site. It will be a condition of the residential and office leases that people car share and are members of a car club.
Join us to make this happen:
We’d like as many people as possible to join us to make this happen.
- We want your ideas: the more people involved the more diversity of ideas and the greater the chance of success.
- We need to demonstrate community support and the easiest way to do this is for people to sign up and become a supporter.
- People can also help by donating large or small amounts via our JustGiving page
- Once we have the site secured, we will launch a Community Share Offer so there will be an opportunity to invest, for an ethical return
Current estimates of bid costs total at least £13,000 or more. We have already spent a considerable amount on architect and business planning costs but further spending will be necessary for:
- More detailed architect drawings
- Pre-application planning costs
- Further business and finance planning
- Grant applications
- Project management
- Publicity and press
We are aiming to raise about half of this from crowdfunding. Oxford Community Foundation have kindly offered to manage the donations via the JustGiving page which means we can also claim gift aid (an extra 25%) on them.
Please be aware that if you donate at this stage, this money is non-returnable. While we are optimistic about our chances of success there are no guarantees but in order to bid, we must spend this money in order to advance.