A warm welcome for Garden City plan

Bicester MP Tony Baldry
Bicester MP Tony Baldry

Plans for a new Garden City have been warmly welcomed.

It was announced today that the government has chosen Bicester to become a Garden City, with funding for building 13,000 new homes.

Bicester’s MP, Sir Tony Baldry, said he “very much welcomes” the proposal.

Sir Tony said: “I very much welcome the proposal that Bicester should become a Garden City.

“Oxfordshire is one of the most successful economies in Europe.

“Existing businesses in Bicester, such as E.P. Barrus, are wanting substantially to grow and many new companies are wanting to move to Oxfordshire.

“People want to live where they work and I think everyone is agreed that there is a need for a substantial number of new houses in Oxfordshire between now and 2031.

“People need homes. There is a very substantial amount of undeveloped brown field land at Bicester – land at present owned by the MOD.

“Some of this land has already been sold by the MOD at Graven Hill and is being used to provide one of the largest opportunities for self‐build housing in Europe.

“When the Defence Storage facilities were built during the First World War they were deliberately built over a very large area of farmland to minimise the damage that could be caused by any Zeppelin attacks.

“However, this meant that the MOD has owned, and still owns, a huge acreage of land on the outskirts of Bicester.

“The MOD’s core distribution and storage facilities can be concentrated on a much smaller amount of land and the rest sold off for house building.

“It obviously makes sense to build as many new houses as possible on brown field land and to minimise the amount of new housing development in Cherwell that has to be built on green fields.

“It also makes sense to develop Bicester coherently.

“In Bicester we already have the Ecotown project. We already have plans for new housing in the Kingsmere Estate and elsewhere, so it makes sense to have a coherent town development with very substantial amounts of government‐provided new money.

“We will have to wait for the Autumn Statement to see the exact figures and details, but if press comment is correct, it is going to be, for example, £44 million to improve the motorway junction and build new and improved road systems around Bicester.

“This is very welcome infrastructure development.

“Bicester is an ideal location, halfway between London and Birmingham.

“With the East West Rail link being constructed, Bicester will also be one of the few communities across the country with both east/west and north/south rail links.

“Bicester town centre has recently been completely regenerated but in a way which retains the essential market town characteristics of Bicester, so this will be a new Garden City which at its heart goes back to St Edburg and the Saxons.

“It will make Bicester a community with the potential to be one of England’s most exciting communities as we go forward into the 21st century.

“I also think this is an initiative which has broad community support.

“I have been publicly proposing Bicester as a Garden Town now for some time.

“Indeed, I made a speech in Bicester in 2012 in which I proposed Bicester as a Garden Town. This speech was widely publicised at the time and drew no adverse comment.

“I have been frequently calling in the House of Commons since for Bicester to be considered a Garden City and this is an initiative which I know also has the support of Cherwell District Council.”