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New community hub for Wadham House

Aristotle House will be repurposed by Makespace Oxford into a venue for charities, workers’ cooperatives and social enterprises.

A vacant building owned by Wadham College will be turned into a community hub.

Aristotle House will be re-purposed by Makespace Oxford into a venue for charities, workers’ cooperatives and social enterprises.

The workspace will house a community events space, meeting rooms, an edible garden, a community café, and workshop space.

It aims to involve marginalised and vulnerable communities through training and employment opportunities.

Makespace Oxford hope that the new workspace will “leverage Oxford’s empty and under-used space for community benefit and raise awareness of new and creative uses for urban space.”

Founding director of Makespace Oxford, Andy Edwards, told Cherwell: “Makespace Oxford is an approach to empty and underused space which could be applied anywhere in Oxford and is not limited to one building in Jericho.

“[We have] been developing very positive discussions with Oxford University Estates department regarding optimising the use of their space, with the potential to use any existing buildings they have for meanwhile workspace and these conversations are ongoing.”

However, he continued: “I would like to see the University work with colleges to publish better data on empty and underused spaces.

“Makespace Oxford hopes to develop a successful working example of what is possible when a college, the council and the community work together.

“But there is a hesitance from the University to release information and this is hampering the opportunity.”

Wadham College had originally scheduled the building to be re-developed into offices and apartments. They have delayed progressing the construction work, citing concerns over “potential traffic and care for the trees”.

They are expected to re-consider developing the building after Makespace’s lease elapses in 2020.

A spokesperson for Wadham College said: “We do not want to leave the building unused, and have agreed a tenancy with Makespace Oxford under which they will manage and make the building available to variety of social enterprises, charities and other small businesses.

“Wadham believes the activities will make a very positive contribution to the local community.”

Makespace Oxford aim to continue the acquisition of college property around the city: “Over the last three years we’ve been developing a model for working with land owners who are looking to convert their empty premises into hives of activity for local social enterprises.

“We’re in an ongoing process of seeking empty and underused spaces capable of incubating exciting new ventures whilst they await redevelopment.”

The University did not respond to Cherwell’s request for comment.

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