Plan provides for up to 30,000 new residents

Bicester town centre.Sheep Street.'120107M-C137
Bicester town centre.Sheep Street.'120107M-C137

A new ‘Masterplan for Bicester’ is being drawn up to guide how the town grows over the next 20 years.

Traffic, housing and employment are among the main local issues highlighted by consultants WYG.

Details will be fed into the new local development framework, a key planning document, which will go to public consultation in April or May.

Discussions during a presentation to Bicester Town Council on Monday included talk of an extension to the Bicester bypass or even a new motorway junction to cope with predicted increases in traffic.

WYG consultant Gordon Lewis asked councillors: “Where’s it growing to? Is there a natural limit to how big Bicester can become?

“And what features should we provide for citizens and businesses?”

Funded by Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council, the masterplan includes yet-to-be-built features such as Bicester’s new town centre.

Councillor James Porter, chairman of Bicester Town Council’s policy committee, said after the meeting: “I’m very much in favour of getting a clear understanding of what the public view is.

“We need to accept the town is going to grow, and we now have to work out how we manage the growth in the best way to provide employment, leisure and health services so Bicester’s an attractive and vibrant place to live.”

The masterplan includes forthcoming developments such as the new East West Rail route and Bicester’s new town centre.

It will also takes into account the Graven Hill site, where the MoD wants to build 1,900 new homes.

Mr Lewis told councillors the town could have to accommodate 9,300 new homes over the next 20 years, with up to 30,000 new residents.

“The question we’re working on with the council is, ‘Is that it? Are there more coming?” he said.

Norman Bolster, Cherwell District councillor for estates, said: “Work is about to start on the Bicester town centre redevelopment which will help draw in business.

“But I’m sure that will not be the end of the story and we want to make sure future developments compliment what is already there.”

The masterplan will help ensure the NW Bicester eco-development integrates with the existing town.

It will also establish a new boundary to limit the town’s growth.

WYG is in the process of gathering information as the first stage of preparing the masterplan. Consultations with interested parties will begin in the late spring.

Anyone wishing to get involved with the Masterplan for Bicester can register their interest on 01295 227970.