DonorsNewsOCFVictorian gable of the Irving Building

Homes for Oxford is preparing a community-led bid to purchase the Irving Building, a Victorian school building in East Oxford which they propose converting into affordable housing and a community space.

Following their recent unsuccessful bid for the Wolvercote Paper Mill site, local affordable housing alliance Homes for Oxford (HfO) is building on the momentum and learning achieved to put a bid together for a new project. The Irving Building is a much-loved Victorian school building owned by Cowley St John Parochial Church Council, a local educational charity. It was in full use until July 2015 for forms 1-3 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.

HfO’s 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. Visit the Homes for Oxford website for full details and architect’s plans so far.

HfO is looking to involve more local people in generating ideas for the project, raising awareness (eg via the Facebook page), donating towards the £13k bid costs (on JustGiving) and ultimately in investing in the potential building project for an ethical return. OCF is supporting the project by hosting the fundraising for the bid, thereby allowing 25% Gift Aid to be incorporated. The current fundraising drive will fund more detailed architect’s drawings; pre-application planning costs; further business and finance planning; grant applications; project management; and publicity and press. HfO aims to raise about half of the £13k total from crowdfunding.

To get involved, please visit HfO’s website or speak to OCF Chief Executive Jayne Woodley.