WORK has begun to create the largest of the new community centres planned for Great Western Park in Didcot.

The District Neighbourhood Community Centre, on the corner of Greenwood Way and Gentian Mews, will host exercise classes, theatrical performances, community group meetings and parties when it opens in autumn next year.

It will include two large multi-use rooms, a number of smaller meeting rooms, a secure area for toddler groups, a cafe and a dedicated room for the local policing team.

A special ceremony was held last month to celebrate work starting on the centre - one of three planned for the 3,300 home estate.

Chairperson of Vale of White Horse District Council Monica Lovatt said: “We are delighted that the district community centre work has started in such a central location.

"It will be an ideal community space for residents of any age from across southern Oxfordshire to access sports and community group activities."

Developer Taylor Wimpey is funding and managing the construction of the new centre via the regional construction firm, Beard Construction.

Once complete, the community centre will be gifted to Vale council who will operate the building once it’s open to residents.

A survey of local residents conducted earlier this year will be used to shape the programme of activities on offer.

Reg Waite, councillor for Harwell ward, said the community centre will provide a welcome alternative to the busy village hall.

He said: “Our wonderful village hall is quite often fully booked so I’m really excited that we will have such a large community building in the Harwell parish for residents to use for big occasions or to even pop in to catch up with a friend over a cup of coffee."

The first residents moved in to Great Western Park in 2011 but many of the first home-buyers complained about a lack of facilities ready at that time.

The estate now boasts several schools, shops, parks and a pub with long-awaited plans for a doctors surgery revealed earlier this year.

Residents have called on developers, including Taylor Wimpey, to learn lessons from Great Western Park and ensure facilities are ready at the same time as houses when planning the new estates which are set to be built in the coming years.

The District Community Centre will join the existing northern neighbourhood centre in Sir Frank Williams Avenue, which opened in September 2015 and is also operated by the local district councils.

Its exterior will feature a public art installation by artist Rodney Harris, who collaborated with the community and local school children to come up with the final design.

Iain Sloan, contracts manager at Beard, said: “It’s great to be commencing construction on this fantastic new community hub which will be a wonderful resource for local people in the area.

“Our construction team is looking forward to working with all stakeholders involved in this important project and delivering a high-quality facility that will bring real value and enjoyment to the community.”

Last month designs for the first phase of another new estate next to GWP, to be known as Valley Park, were revealed. This will also feature shops, sports facilities, playing fields and allotments.