Second time lucky for Winners site plans

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Plans for a 36-place assisted living home on the site of Bicester’s Winners Bargain Centre store have been given the green light despite some objections from councillors.

A scheme for a 60-bed care home on the site in Victoria Road was rejected in February after members of Cherwell District Council’s planning committee expressed concerns over the size and design of the building, as well as its proximity to homes.

But, after a reduction in size, members of the planning committee voted to approve the development in principle.

Councillor Debbie Pickford was among the councillors who raised objections.

She said: “I think personally this is not the right place for an old folks’ home.

“I agree with Bicester Town Council, and would like to see it used for commercial or light industrial.”

She added: “I really think we ought to look for more retail, shopping, something like that.”

Councillor Lawrie Stratford said he supported the idea of an assisted living home.

He said: “It’s close to the town centre, where most residents will need to be close to things.

“If Victoria Road is improved, it seems a logical place to put a home.

“This is assisted living, not ancillary accommodation, and I think this is the right place.

“The numbers have gone down.

“We were talking earlier about all types of housing to cover all needs.

“Some of us are getting old where we will need this kind of accommodation.

“There aren’t enough green fields in the leafy suburbs of our bigger towns because people can’t afford to live there.

“It seems to be an excellent opportunity to provide accommodation that is needed for those of the older generation, and it is in the right place.”

He added: “I was slightly amused at Condition 8 that it would have to have covered cycle parking – it could only be for workers because I don’t think many of the residents will have a bike.”

Councillor Jon O’Neill said he also disagreed with the location.

He added: “It looks like a modern-day office park block. I just think we could do something better with that piece of land, maybe retail or a small start-up business.”

He also expressed fears for pedestrians attempting to cross Victoria Road, “ or otherwise.”

A motion to refuse the application was turned down, and the plans were approved.

Bicester Town Council had said it would not make a formal objection to the assisted living home, but said it was not the right place for a care home and had concerns over the proposed road layout.