New sports village may boost town

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THREE football pitches, three rugby pitches, a cricket pitch and a running track are included in the plans for Bicester’s new sports village.

Designs for the proposal, planned as part of Bicester’s new Kingsmere estate, were presented to the town council last week.

Phil Rolls, Cherwell District Council’s recreation manager, asked councillors to give their thoughts on the planning application before a decision is taken over coming weeks.

Space for a future tennis court development, floodlights and a changing pavilion could also be included if the sports facility is approved.

The whole area would be surrounded by a three-metre-wide track suitable for cyclists and runners, which could incorporate outdoor exercise equipment as part of a ‘trim trail’.

Mr Rolls said the grass pitches would be created to a very high specification to allow top-level competitions to be held in town.

The sports village would be developed in three phases, with the pitches, cricket outfield and cycle track as part of the first phase.

Mr Rolls said one of the main problems with the planning application for the first phase could be the removal of two sections of hedgerow that cut across the site at the southernmost end of the Kingsmere estate.

“Our proposal includes a mitigating scheme, not only to replace the hedgerow, but to include three times more hedgerow than is already there,” he said.

Phase two would include the pavilion and a car parking area, while a possible phase three would include synthetic pitches if funding could be secured.

Mr Rolls said the council wanted to get the first phase up and running by September 2014. The pavilion in phase two could either be a smaller building with changing rooms, or a modular construction that could be expanded in future, Mr Rolls said.

Policy committee chairman Councillor James Porter welcomed the proposals, saying there was, “...a not inconsiderable shortfall of sports pitches and green spaces in this town.”

Other councillors asked questions about the removal of the hedgerows and possible pitch-sharing arrangements with any new schools that are built as part of the Kingsmere estate.

Plans for the new sports village are now available to view in Cherwell District Council’s offices or online via www.cherwell.gov.uk.