Town objects to jobs plan

Network Bicester site GV.
Network Bicester site GV.

Bicester has said no to a plan for an £80million, 75,000 square metre warehouse and office project which could create up to 1,200 jobs.

Next Thursday Cherwell District Council’s planning committee will discuss an outline plan for the commercial site off Howes Lane and Middleton Stoney Road which officers have recommended for refusal.

Their recommendation came after CDC received 96 comments and a petition signed by 114 people objecting to the application by developer Albion Land.

The site is in the southern corner of the area earmarked for the Bicester Eco Town proposal and although no masterplan has been agreed for that project objectors say the warehouses are ‘incongruous’ with the principles of the eco town.

It is also feared the 14 to 15ft high warehouses will overlook homes backing on to Howes Lane and hamper future development in that part of the town.

Neighbouring parish councils have joined Bicester Town Council in objecting to the proposals.

Albion Land have argued employers are shunning the town due the lack of available employment space and have instead focused on developments in Banbury, Milton Keynes, Abingdon and Warkwick.

Councillor Richard Mould, chairman of Bicester Town Council’s planning commitee said: “This has come before us three times in various incarnations and each time we vehemently objected to the proposals on the basis it is the wrong development in the wrong place.

“We feel that type of development is much more appropriate in the area outlined in the Bicester Masterplan for development towards Craven Hill rather than where they are proposing.

“We see that area as very much part of the north west development and eco town. And yes there will be some business in the eco town but we believe it should fit in with the ethos of the eco town and not a massive series of distribution warehouses.”

Albion Land director Kelvin Pearce said they were disappointed at the officer’s recommendation and has written to CDC chief executive Sue Smith to clarify the position before next Thursday meeting.

He said they were not turning their back on the principles of the eco town and their development would meet the latest sustainable building standards.

He added: “I think the planners are missing a great opportunity. It is well recognised and well documented in the council’s employment land study there is a major shortage of employment land in Bicester.”

The north west of Bicester has been selected as the site for 5,000 home eco development that will promote Bicester as an exemplar eco town development with high living standards that couple with environmental benefits.

Such benefits for the people of Bicester include first rate public transport and zero-carbon technology.