Work has begun on the £1million redevelopment of Barton Neighbourhood Centre, which will triple the size of its GP surgery.
The Underhill Circus centre will also have a new entrance and foyer built as well as its sports hall and toilets refurbished and increased parking installed.
The redevelopment will ‘compliment’ the Oxford suburb’s new 850-home Barton Park development which, as an NHS ‘healthy new town’, has been designed to embed health and wellbeing into the fabric of the community.
Councillor Dee Sinclair, Oxford City Council’s executive board member for communities, is pleased work is under way.
She said: “The redevelopment will create a vibrant and welcoming new health and community hub in the heart of Barton that will bring the existing and new community together and meet their community, health and wellbeing needs.”
Barton Neighbourhood Centre, which opened in 1992, currently features a GP surgery, community café, community hall, sports hall, advice centre, police office, youth club and other services and facilities.
The city council is currently in talks with Barton Community Association (BCA) to agree a 25-year lease to manage the new facility.
BCA secretary Sue Holden has warned of some ‘general disruption’ but stressed the ‘inevitable’ commotion would be worth it for a ‘much improved’ community facility.
She added: “Once completed, the centre will benefit the whole community and will be a welcoming and more inviting venue to visit.
“It will also allow BCA to have a far more visible presence within the community.”
The project, which will be completed in the autumn, is funded by £370,000 worth of Section 106 developer money and £570,000 from the city council.
The neighbourhood centre will remain open during the majority of the work to minimise the impact on services and users.
Barton is one of the 10 NHS England Healthy New Towns focusing on how the environment can encourage people to get active.
Barton Park will have streets designed for walking and cycling, parks and green spaces, outdoor gym equipment, sports facilities, improved allotments and homes