The final phase of Bicester’s Pioneer Square development to provide an iconic community building and gateway to the town has been given the thumbs up by councillors.
Yesterday (Thursday, 19 June) members of Cherwell District Council’s planning committee approved plans for the erection of a five storey building comprising community and town centre uses at Franklins Yard in St John’s Street.
The £6.5 million development, which will be known as the Bicester Community Building, will incorporate amenities including council offices, a new library and restaurant and retail opportunities as well as a 53-bedroom hotel.
Cllr Norman Bolster, lead member for economy and estates, said: “Almost 12 months on from the opening of Pioneer Square, permission has now been granted for the final stage of this town centre regeneration programme with the Bicester Community Building. Its approval marks the end of Franklins Yard car park, but the beginning of a brighter and more prosperous future for the town.
“This decision will enable the use of this site to be maximised to its full potential for the benefit of Bicester. Not only will this scheme bring jobs, boost the economy and provide essential community facilities, the addition of the hotel and restaurants will continue to rejuvenate the town outside of office hours, bringing greater activity and vitality.”
The site is currently used for town centre parking but also includes some buildings to the rear of Sheep Street which are already approved for demolition. The whole site will extend to one quarter of a hectare and will provide a total internal space of 4,643 square metres.
The ground floor will comprise a Cherwell District Council Link Point office, restaurant and/ or retail space. Upstairs on the first floor, Oxfordshire County Council will house its new library and incorporate Bicester Local History Society with the remainder of the space being set aside for office use.
There will be further office space on the second floor while the third and fourth floors will be occupied by a 53-bed Travelodge hotel.
The community building has been designed to utilise existing car parks within the town centre, including Pioneer Square, and so will not include additional parking provision.
In keeping with Bicester One Shared Vision, the building will showcase environmentally sustainable developments including photovoltaic panels, use of combined heat and power and provision for cycle parking.
Having now obtained planning consent, contractors Morgan Sindall are expected to begin work on the site later this summer with an estimated completion date of summer 2015