The OxLEP-backed scheme, 'Meanwhile in Oxfordshire' - created to support the re-emergence of the county's high streets - has seen two new organisations secure business space in Banbury.
Makespace Oxford, who are the lead delivery partner on the county-wide economic regeneration programme, have supported Orinoco and Oxfordshire Youth into space in central Banbury. Both will benefit from short-term leases that will run for one year, with potential to be extended.
Orinoco (pictured above at their new premises) is a community organisation that seeks to ‘banish boredom’ by encouraging the creative reuse of materials, while Oxfordshire Youth are a youth development charity supporting young people to reach their potential.
Orinoco and Oxfordshire Youth are amongst the first organisations that Makespace Oxford will work with through ‘Meanwhile in Oxfordshire’ in an effort to support community-driven organisations to access affordable space in Oxfordshire’s urban centres.
OxLEP secured £1.9m of funding for the 'Meanwhile in Oxfordshire' project via the Government’s Getting Building Fund in summer 2020.
The programme aims to break down barriers to space and give organisations a unique opportunity to develop, test and deliver their services. It also aims to breathe life back into the high number of underused spaces on Oxfordshire’s high streets, supporting economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic.
Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP, said: “We are delighted to learn of the latest successes of ‘Meanwhile in Oxfordshire’ – a key programme that we secured funding for, designed to reinvigorate our city and town centres.
“Creating imaginative and attractive spaces within our urban centres is key following the COVID-19 pandemic and we hope many other businesses and projects across the county will engage with the ‘Meanwhile in Oxfordshire’ programme moving forward.”
Andy Edwards, Programme Lead at Makespace Oxford, said: “We’re delighted to see Orinoco and Oxfordshire Youth moving into these Banbury spaces. These are brilliant, purpose-led organisations that will help us bring to life a new and more sustainable vision for our high streets and urban centres.”
The ‘Meanwhile in Oxfordshire’ programme launched in February of 2021 and Makespace Oxford have received over 290 applications for space from a diverse range of organisations, including small charities, start-ups, independent retailers and creatives.
They have inspected over 175 vacant properties, are negotiating leases on 30, and aim to bring many more spaces online in the coming months.