This project was successful in a grant application to the Community Ownership Fund, matched by contributions from Oxford City Council, FCC Communities Foundation, Headington Action and ourselves.

After consideration in recent months by Oxford City Council’s planning department, permission has now been granted for these improvements to take place. We are looking forward to creating a community café with public access toilets, resurfaced tennis courts with LED court lighting, multi-use games area, mini golf course and more - so we can welcome people of all ages for rest and recreation.

Download our consultation findings and FAQs.

May 2024 update

It may not currently look like it, but we're so close to being able to open our doors and we can't wait to welcome you in! 

Courtside at Bury Knowle is home to a community café with public access toilets, resurfaced tennis courts with LED court lighting, multi-use games area, mini golf course and more - ready to welcome people of all ages for rest and recreation.

This project would not have been possible without the support we have received from local residents, Oxford City Council, Headington Action, the FCC Communities Foundation and the Community Ownership Fund. We are immensely grateful to everyone that has joined us on this journey so far and for those that continue to assist us in realising our vision of bringing people together and encouraging them to be active.

We hope that Courtside at Bury Knowle serves as a base for connecting the community and encouraging physical and social well-being, while protecting Bury Knowle Park for future generations.

How did we get here?

The build is nearly complete, but how did we do it? We worked with the wonderful team at Oxford Direct Services (ODS) to bring Courtside at Bury Knowle to life. Head over to our Instagram or Facebook to see the highlights of the build!

As for what Courtside at Bury Knowle will look like once it's complete, you'll have to come and visit when we're open to find out! Keep an eye out for another update from us shortly…

See you soon!

The Courtside Team

January 2024 update

Bury Knowle Park multi-activity hub & café: Facility improvements underway

Having satisfied the pre-start conditions associated with our planning permission, the facility improvements in Bury Knowle Park are now beginning to get underway.

Oxford Direct Services (ODS) are undertaking the refurbishment of the park pavilion, converting it into a community café that can welcome local people of all ages and backgrounds, alongside new recreational facilities. ODS will do their very best to minimise the disruption to the park and to local residents and park users in the weeks and months ahead. We thank you in advance for your patience and apologise for the short-term inconvenience.

The Chestnut Avenue entrance will remain open, with a ‘corner’ of the park securely cordoned off for construction works. As and when vehicles enter and exit the park, there will be banksman in high visibility clothing to add extra protection, and we would ask you to take particular care when going through the park.

During the construction phase the tennis courts and MUGA can still be accessed but alternative routes will need to be taken. The usual entrance to the MUGA is temporarily unavailable so access can be gained through the back-up gate on the opposite fence to the regular gate. The normal gate for the tennis courts remains in use but as the path in front of the old pavilion is cordoned off, players will have to use the path on the opposite side and follow this around the courts to get to the gate. Signage will be in place to direct you to the appropriate access points but do not hesitate to contact us if you require assistance.

It is our hope to have everything completed and open by May and we look forward to welcoming you to Courtside at Bury Knowle.

Jeff Hunter

MD, Courtside Hubs CIC and local Headington resident

November 2023 update

This is an update regarding the proposed facility improvements in Bury Knowle Park, which have been under consideration in recent months by Oxford City Council’s planning department. Permission has now been granted for these improvements to take place, subject to a number of conditions that ensure the protection of neighbours, wildlife and heritage in this lovely city park.

Following a procurement process, we have appointed Oxford Direct Services (ODS) to undertake the refurbishment of the park pavilion, converting it into a community café that can welcome local people of all ages and backgrounds. Given the public funding for this project, we are confident that ODS will deliver excellent value for money and will be especially careful in protecting the park during the construction phase, not least as they were the most recent users of the pavilion itself.

As a reminder, we are Courtside, an Oxford-based community interest company, working with Oxford City Council, the Lawn Tennis Association and other stakeholders to improve the lives of local people, especially those who face disadvantage in some way. Our mission is to bring people together and encourage them to be active. The plans at Bury Knowle were borne out of years of operational experience, discussions with local community groups (including Headington Action and Friends of Bury Knowle Park), an extensive public consultation and various community events. With the sports courts already resurfaced and back in use, we are now able to turn our attention to the dilapidated pavilion and defunct mini golf course.

While all details are not yet finalised, it is our hope that works will be completed by Spring 2024. We are pleased to advise that the project will deliver a biodiversity net gain ahead of any statutory obligation, including a new mini orchard, wildflower meadow and other planting in and around the site. We want people to continue to enjoy the park as a place of rest as well as recreation.

Thank you to the local community who helped shape the plans that have led us to this point. We hope the end result will bring significant positive benefits to a wide range of people and make Headington an even happier and healthier place to live and work.

Courtside at Bury Knowle

August 2023 update


3/01581/FUL Bury Knowle Park planning application: Response to local resident feedback

This is a brief, important update to our proposals for Bury Knowle Park in response to helpful feedback from local residents. It follows from our extensive public consultation and drop-in events which took place between October 2022 and April 2023 (and can be viewed on our website).

The context for our planning application to Oxford City Council is multi-faceted but at the heart are 3 primary goals:

  1. To save Bury Knowle Park’s recreational facilities for future generations, protecting the park’s heritage in the process.
  2. To do so in a way that is economically sustainable, given increasing pressure on public finances and Councils’ competing priorities for investment.
  3. To bring people together and encourage them to be active through a well-designed place,

staffed by great people and offering an accessible programme of activities.

Objections to our proposals – which we view as constructive criticism – and our considered response are summarised below under 4 headings.

Noise (arising from pickleball)

It is hoped that an investment in new community facilities will attract use by people of different ages and backgrounds, and this will increase noise compared to the currently under-utilised tennis courts. Local residents in Chestnut Avenue has raised a specific concern about the potential noise impact of pickleball, a rapidly growing ‘bat & ball’ sport that is played on a space roughly a quarter of the size of a tennis court. This game is especially good for those in later life wanting to keep exercising and socialising (we think a good fit for many in Headington). Pickleball happens to share the same court dimensions with badminton, providing additional flexibility and variety. While pickleball is typically played with a plastic ball, there are other options, e.g. low compression tennis ball or sponge ball.

Notwithstanding the above, we have decided to drop pickleball in favour of mini tennis: we are not 'purists' about sport, we just want to make it easy and affordable to get moving with friends/family; we know a simpler, more accessible racket sport will create both choice and capacity, good for kids and seniors alike, moving the site from 4 to 7 tennis courts. Mini tennis is played with a low compression red ball or soft sponge ball and does the same (or similar) job with less noise than pickleball and even existing ‘traditional’ tennis.

Another, related concern was raised about the inclusion of bleachers (two-sided bench seating) which gave the impression of us seeking to develop a ‘sports centre’. This is not the case, we are simply trying to restore defunct facilities in a modern, inclusive way; but we do accept that bleachers would change the aspect of the park and so have replaced these with low level picnic benches which serve the same purpose as allowing parents to have line of sight of their children and for others to socialise before, after or instead of activity.

In summary, we are dropping both pickleball and bleachers as these are clearly a concern to neighbours, who matter to us as a local social enterprise.


When considering the facilities we design within the park, we are keen that they are aesthetically pleasing, financially viable and sympathetic to the natural environment as far as possible. As we seek to balance these goals, pragmatic compromise is required, in some areas at least. There are three specific issues here:

Even though this is not yet a mandatory planning requirement, we are committed to an overall net biodiversity gain of 10% across the site (i.e. there will be more biodiversity in Bury Knowle Park, not less, as a result of this project); we have appointed an ecologist and a landscape architect to help us achieve this.

Tennis court reduction

All agree that the tennis courts require resurfacing, though some have questioned the reduction from 4 tennis courts to 3. While this is true of the full-size tennis courts, we are actually increasing the available spaces to play tennis from 4 to 7 courts, with 4 of these being for mini tennis (not pickleball, as confirmed above). This version of the game, played with a low compression red ball or a soft sponge ball, is especially good for under 8s learning to play, families having fun together, and the older generation seeking a less intensive, more sedate form of tennis, e.g. Walking Tennis is often played on a smaller-sized court.

The current capacity of the courts at Bury Knowle Park today is 16 players (assuming all 4 courts are in use in doubles format). The future capacity, with all courts in use for doubles, will be 28 players – another type of ‘net gain’.

LED court lights will also offer additional playing hours in the winter to enable people to exercise year-round, subject to curfew time of course.

Overall, we believe this re-configuration of the courts provides more choice for more groups, especially when the mini tennis courts, or 3x3 basketball courts or netball court (all of which share the same space) can be flexibly used by the community, e.g. free time on weekdays after school.

Traffic management

The final area of concern for some is increased traffic on Chestnut Avenue and surrounding roads. While this could be the case in the early days of opening, we will do all we can to signpost people to accessing the park on foot and/or by bike. The Bury Knowle facilities are primarily intended for local people to enjoy as an encouragement to ‘get moving’ and we would like to see the travel to and from the park to be part of being active – we are keen to connect existing pathways within the park and add numerous cycle racks for this purpose.

Headington is well served by bus routes, which provides another alternative to the car, and there are existing car parks a short walk away.

Despite all these options, if there are car users who disregard local street restrictions, e.g. by parking in permit holder bays, we will seek to ensure early enforcement of fixed penalties to act as a deterrent for repeat offending.

We hope the above demonstrates that we are listening to local people’s concerns and responding accordingly. We appreciate all constructive feedback and indeed the many voices of support received.

Jeff Hunter

MD, Courtside Hubs CIC and local Headington resident

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