Pupils take part in bricklaying ceremony

Banbury residents are a step closer to having a new extra care scheme for older people, one which also incorporates an exciting new day centre.

The start of work on a new £9.7 million development at the former Stanbridge Hall in Ruskin Road was commemorated last week through a special bricklaying ceremony. Oxfordshire County Councillor, Jim Couchman, was joined by Councillor Michael Gibbard from Cherwell District Council, Banbury School pupils and representatives from Housing 21, the Homes and Communities Agency and Barteak Developments Limited to lay one of the first bricks to mark the start of the construction process.

Built on the site of the former Banbury School, the new development will retain the existing iconic façade and will provide 70 new self-contained apartments for the over-55s, including rented and shared ownership properties. There will also be community facilities including a shop, restaurant and hair and beauty salon as well as a £500,000 day centre which has been funded by Oxfordshire County Council.

Pushpa Raguvaran, chief executive of Housing 21 said: “We are delighted to see construction of this fantastic development at Stanbridge Hall getting underway. This new extra care scheme will provide residents with a safe and secure environment in which to continue living an independent lifestyle. Along with facilities that are accessible for the wider local community, I am sure this scheme will become a very welcome asset to the people of Banbury.”

A few artefacts from the former school building are being looked after by Banbury School for safe keeping. These will then return to the new building when it is completed.

Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for finance & property, Cllr Jim Couchman, said “The County Council took a decision more than three years ago that it should support frail and elderly people either in their own homes or in extra care schemes, rather than in residential care homes. Since then we have sought to bring extra care housing schemes to fruition across the County.Housing 21’s projects here at Stanbridge Hall will be the second such scheme in Banbury – the other scheme is under construction at Nethrop. I am delighted that Stanbridge Hall will also include a resource centre for the elderly to replace a much loved but outdated centre in the town’.

Apartments at the new scheme, which has received funding of £5 million from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), will each have a fully fitted kitchen, walk-in shower and non-slip flooring to the kitchen and bathroom areas. On-site staff will provide 24 hour care and support, tailored to meet individual needs.

Development on the new scheme is due to complete in March, 2012.