Oxford City Council to launch £1.9m revitalisation of vacant shops

Oxford’s Covered Market

Oxford City Council has teamed up with social enterprise Makespace to launch a £1.9 million revitalisation of vacant shops across Oxfordshire and bounce back from Covid-19 during 2021.

The project, called ‘Meanwhile in Oxfordshire…’, will see vacant retail units in high streets across the county transformed into independent shops, cultural venues, creative studios and co-working space.

The aim is to provide affordable premises to accommodate more than 100 organisations, which will create or secure at least 300 jobs across Oxfordshire.

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on Oxfordshire’s high streets. Footfall in Oxford city centre was down 62.3 per cent in July (from 3.1 million in 2019 to 1.2 million in 2020) and 46.5 per cent in August (from 2.7 million to 1.4 million).

‘Meanwhile in Oxfordshire…’ aims to reduce the number of vacant units in the county’s high streets and enable entrepreneurs to fill them with new and innovative ideas. This will diversify the offer in Oxfordshire’s town and city centres, and give people more reasons to visit.

The City Council, which developed the project on behalf of Oxfordshire’s other district councils, worked with the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) to make it happen, with OxLEP securing the £1.9m of funding from the Government’s Getting Building Fund. The City Council has now commissioned Makespace to run the project.

The Getting Building Fund has provided £900 million to LEPs and mayors across the country to accelerate the UK’s economic revival from Covid-19 through the delivery of capital projects.