Sustainability and communities come together for Broad Street project

Broad St sustainability


Oxford’s exciting new Broad Street project will consist of sustainable and innovative street furniture to create a welcoming space for communities.
The project, which is expected to open later in October, will include sitting areas with planters for visitors to meet with friends to socialise or just take a break between working, sightseeing or shopping. It is being delivered as one of Oxfordshire County Council’s priorities to provide green spaces in busy urban areas and to promote wellbeing.

Local businesses and residents have been involved in delivering the project to ensure that the street furniture is made responsibly and locally.

Councillor Andrew Gant, Cabinet Member for Highways Management said: “It’s great to see the Broad Street scheme coming to life and delivering an appealing urban park in the midst of a beautiful setting. Preserving and improving access to green space is a vital part of our priorities. This creates a vibrant space for everyone to enjoy, while keeping climate responsibility at the heart of its delivery. I know I speak for myself as well as our team in saying we could not have achieved this without the wealth of valuable input we have received from our partners and I feel a great pride in the results.”

Broad Street project will consist of robust wooden benches and seats made using locally sourced, and where possible, reclaimed wood. This furniture is being produced by RAW workshop, an award-winning social enterprise based in Blackbird Leys, Oxford.

Planters placed on Broad Street are made by WoodBlocX. They are made from sustainable materials and have a twenty-year design life. The planters will be  supplied as modular kits, which means they are easier to transport, and can be cleanly dismantled after use and then reused.

RAW was established five years ago by Rick Mower to train and employ local people who have experienced life-impacting challenges. The team collected 715.5 tonnes of reclaimed wood last year and contributed to CO2 saving of over 62,000 kgs. 

WoodBlocX has made street furniture for other cities including Westfield shopping centre in London and Saughton Park in Edinburgh. It is a family business based in the Highlands. Its production chain is kept entirely within the local area. For every tree that is used, the business plants an average of two or more saplings.

Dan McLearnon, Commercial Manager from WoodBlocX said: “We are delighted to have played a part in helping bring the Broad Street scheme to life with the inclusion of our raised planters. This is such a forward-thinking project; I have no doubt that it will set a fantastic standard for other city centres to help boost local economies and bring people together by transforming streets through using a winning combination of planting and natural materials.”

Rick Mower, Founder of RAW, said: “RAW creates real social value and proves, through the quality of our products and services, that everyone can be exceptional no matter their life history. To see our products in the heart of our city, one of the most famous cities in the world, is testament to that. We’re incredibly proud to be part of this brilliant project.”

Both RAW and WoodBlocX are committed to Forest Stewardship Council practices and their timber is fully FSC certified.

Oxford Direct Services has been preparing the site and is managing the delivery and installation of the street furniture. This includes preparing the planters with a water irrigation system to make sure plants have a steady supply of water according to their requirements, supported by a drainage layer to protect roots and conserve excess water. The planters are being filled with a mix of seasonal native flowers, trees and shrubs so that they will have growth all year round, and a display that changes with the seasons.

Image shows: planters and seating being prepared for installation; Broad Street, Oxford


For more information about this release contact the Oxfordshire County Council communications team on 01865 323870 or email press.office@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Notes for editors:
RAW’s profits from the project help to fund its RAW Potential charity – supporting young people through outreach and counselling, helping them access core education, build confidence and develop skills.