THE COMMUNITY WORKS

The Community Works is a dynamic and vibrant hub right in the heart of Oxford. One of the first spaces of its kind in the city, it combines a restaurant and cafe with a number of smaller creative community spaces.

Owned by Nuffield College, University of Oxford, the building was empty for nearly eight years after the last tenants vacated. With long-term plans for redevelopment of the area taking shape, it was not being used and had fallen into disrepair. Now, it's a busy and thriving venue home to six purpose-led organisations.

Unit Size

214 square metres

Location

Central Oxford

Building Type

Community Hub

Landlord

Nuffield College

Years Previously Empty

Eight

THE PROCESS

The Community Works - Before Image

THE OPPORTUNITY

With its central location right next to Oxford’s train station, we saw the building at 21 Park End Street as an opportunity to create an affordable and accessible social enterprise hub in an otherwise expensive and exclusive city centre.

After commissioning research to gain insight on community opinion, experience and need in relation to buildings in the city centre, we proposed a dynamic community hub animated by innovative, purpose-driven organisations and individuals.

A lease for the vacant building was secured from Nuffield College for an initial three year period at a peppercorn rent, and we began the refurbishment and transformation of The Community Works. 

BARRIERS TO USE

Prior to our occupancy, 21 Park End Street had been empty for nearly eight years, resulting in significant dilapidation and health and safety risks. To bring it to usable standards, we completed the following works…

  • Full site deep clean and waste removal
  • Full electrical re-wire
  • Replacement of gas and boiler systems
  • Installation of electrical heating system
  • Roof repairs
  • Glazing repairs and window refurbishment
  • Plastering, carpentry, redecoration
  • Fit out with a full industrial kitchen and servery area

THE OUTCOME

With community research completed and building works underway, we embarked on the process of finding a combination of resident organisations that would bring this new space to life. Through a formal cafe tender and our 'Meanwhile in Oxfordshire...' application process, we found six local organisations and businesses that would compliment each others' work and the needs of local community.

Today, The Community Works is a place where people can come not only to eat and drink, but to connect, collaborate and create. It is home to Lula's Ethiopian & Eritrean, JF Coffee, The Oxford Poetry Library, Oxford Playhouse, Live Illustration and Robyn MacDonald Knits.

0 Organisations supported

All of which have social, environmental or cultural impact at their core

0 Jobs created and sustained

By providing affordable space and a platform for businesses and organisations to grow

0 Square metres brought back into use

Fostering community, collaboration, creativity, skill-sharing, support and more

THE IMPACT

Though the 'Meanwhile in Oxfordshire...' programme funding and our temporary access to 21 Park End Street, we've been able to provide affordable workspace to a handful of of small businesses and organisations that were otherwise priced out of space in Oxford.

The Community Works offers its residents an opportunity to occupy a valuable, high-traffic unit in the city centre without taking on the risk of lengthy and expensive lease agreements. This allows them to test and deliver their ideas in the company of other organisations doing the same, building a vibrant culture of mutual support and skill sharing. It also helps them to reach a wider audience with their work and to broaden their customer base.

The Community Works has also served to drive interest and footfall in the area that it is located, diversifying the offer and giving people more reasons to visit and spend time in Frideswide Square.

It's been our dream to open a space that can bring the community together, and provide a welcoming atmosphere to enjoy good food with great company. Our little space here is just that. We are so grateful for the opportunity and have enjoyed sharing the space with other local, independent organisations.
Lula Business Owner and Resident
Lula holding red key outside The Community Works
We've been a mobile library operating out of a cargo bike since we were founded, but having a physical space makes a huge difference to our ability to reach a wider audience. We exist to bring poetry, literacy, and creativity to the community and this space allows us to have open shelves for people to browse and borrow poetry for free during regular library hours.
Phoebe Founder, Oxford Poetry Library
The OPL Library at The Community Works
It has been wonderful to be able to offer or dedicated rehearsal space at The Community Works to local artists. It has served as a much-needed free resource supporting arts in the city.
Sarah Oxford Playhouse

The programme has also added value to the space for the landlords, Nuffield College. With the 'Meanwhile in Oxfordshire...' programme funding, we've been able to invest £150,000 in building works, maintenance and additional capital costs, whilst also absorbing business rates liabilities since 2020. The new use of the space has also provided an opportunity for the College to engage with and support the needs of the local community, putting an otherwise costly asset into productive use.

Hear from our team and residents...

Lula, Founder and Owner
Lula's Ethiopian & Eritrean Cuisine
Andrew, Owner and Director
Jam Factory
Alex, Communities Delivery Manager
Makespace Oxford

RESIDENT ORGANISATIONS

Lula's Ethiopian & Eritrean Cuisine Logo
Oxford Playhouse Logo

LOCATION