Oxford Cornmarket in 2023: New shops which could be coming – Oxford Mail


New retail units could open in Cornmarket in 2023 as part of a £40m redevelopment of the former Northgate House building.
Since October, Jesus College students have been enjoying the stunning new building in Cornmarket which features accommodation, a digital hub, a health centre and some retail units.
While it is not known which businesses could occupy the units, it remains the only unfinished element of the project.
READ AGAIN: Looking back at construction of a £40m complex
The former Northgate House at the junction with Market Street in Oxford was completed following a three-year project led by UK company BAM Construction.
The Oxford University students are now living in rooms in the new structure which has been renamed the Cheng Yu Tung Building after its main sponsor.
Oxford Mail:
The design, construction and operation means it is one of the city centre’s first fully zero carbon buildings.
Outstanding features include accommodation built around a ‘rooftop’ Fourth Quad, which offers views of the city, and a digital hub in the basement, offering the latest digital technologies.
Centred on a sweeping curved staircase rising three storeys high, the hub will become “a fulcrum for academic endeavour and more” according to the college.
Many years ago the space was once occupied by a Cornmarket Co-op.
The building is also home to a new gym, multi-faith room and cafe, which looks down onto Market Street and Cornmarket.
While the building has been completed, details have not yet been finalised regarding which high street names will occupy the retail units.
A spokeswoman for the college said: “The college’s commercial lettings agency, KLM, is in ongoing talks with a number of potential retail tenants and welcomes enquiries from interested retail businesses.”
College principal Sir Nigel Shadbolt welcomed the completion of the building project.
READ AGAIN: Machine named ‘The Beast’ ready to destroy shops
He said: “We are delighted that the Cheng Yu Tung Building is now fully open.
“This is the culmination of an ambitious five-year project to create exciting new opportunities to position Jesus as a leading college for learning and research at Oxford.
Oxford Mail:
“This exceptional building not only provides us with more space in which to carry out our academic research and teaching, it also provides Oxford with a dynamic new venue for activities such as exhibitions, performances, talks and conferencing, and a new integrated NHS health centre.
“In the near future, it will feature new retail units which will enhance the historic shopping district around Cornmarket.
“We want to make the college, including our research and our people, more open and accessible to the general public and local communities.
“We look forward to hosting many public events in the months and years ahead in our new digital hub.”
A formal ribbon cutting event took place on October 22 for a private event, and the first public event, a talk about digital platforms, was held in the digital hub on October 25.
There has also been a special computer gaming night entitled A History of Gaming, where visitors were able to learn how gaming has driven wider technological advances.
The development is the college’s largest physical transformation since the 18th century and is the culmination of an ambitious five-year project.
Oxford Mail:
In 2017, the college received a donation of £15m from Hong Kong philanthropist Dr Henry Kar Shun Cheng, through his London-based property company Knight Dragon.
READ MORE: Benefactor revealed for £40m Jesus College building
The building has been named in honour of his father Cheng Yu Tung, and the Cheng Kar Shun Digital Hub after Dr Cheng himself.
Prof Shadbolt added: “We wanted to make the college more open and accessible to the public, prospective students and global academic communities.”
Over the course of three years shoppers got used to construction work taking place just behind the shopping street.
Hoardings went up to cover up the demolition and building work.
Tower cranes were among the vehicles brought in without causing much disruption.
In 2019, a huge digger helped with the demolition.
Construction worker Tony Blakeley nicknamed his machine ‘The Beast’.
The Hitachi Zaxis 490 LCH excavator was brought in to reduce Northgate House to rubble.
Mr Blakeley, who worked for Scudder Demolition on the project led by BAM Construction, said at the time: “This machine is huge – a real beast.
“It weighs 47 tonnes and it’s a muncher – it will gradually take down the block from back to front in a very safe controlled way.
“It came into Market Street on a loader about midnight last night and it’s a sign of progress – major demolition could start within a few weeks.”
Oxford Mail:
Mr Blakeley said shoppers in Cornmarket would notice a change once scaffolding was taken down.
BAM Construction said work on the Northgate House development was running to schedule.
A spokeswoman previoulsy said: “This week saw the delivery of the main demolition plant – a large piece of specialised equipment which is now on site and will be used to dismantle the remaining structures.
“The equipment was delivered overnight to minimise disruption for local residents and traders.
“Over the next few weeks the perimeter protection scaffold around the site will be extended, remaining demolition completed and all waste material removed as this phase of preparatory work nears completion.
“Work will take place inside the perimeter so there will be very little disruption to the public.
“The main construction work will begin in the autumn.”
This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.
Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk
Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF
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