Council buildings will be razed in self-build land deal

7:00am Monday 1st April 2013

By Sam McGregor

FORMER care home St Edburg’s House, a library, offices and council depot in Bicester have been sold off and will be bulldozed to make way for new self-build projects.

There will be a mix of houses and flats, but the county council has not said how many properties will be built on the land it owns in Old Place Yard.

Designs have yet to be agreed but could include homes built to a water-tight shell – where the owner finishes the interior – and plots where the property is built from scratch.

There will also be housing for people who need wheelchair access. These will not be self- build.

Another development, a former highways depot at Coach House Mews, off London Road, will feature 40 one and two bedroom flats.

All four sites were owned by Oxfordshire County Council, but are in the process of being sold to Cherwell District Council to form part of its self-build project, ‘Build!’ Under the scheme, residents will be able to play a part in building their own home.

The councils have not said how much the sites are being sold for as details are still being finalised.

Bicester Library is still operating in Old Place Yard, but is expected to move to a new £5m civic building in Franklin’s Yard car park when it is complete.

Building work will start once the new town centre redevelopment is open – expected to be this summer.

Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for property, Kieron Mallon, said: “This is a fantastic deal.

“Cherwell will be providing low cost housing within the district and Oxfordshire County Council will have some nomination rights to ensure that those people with disabilities or special housing needs are catered for.”

Four sites in Banbury will also be included in the deal – former care home Orchard Lodge, disused offices in Calthorpe House, Calthorpe Road, the former Connexions office in Broughton Road and former care home Lincoln House.

Debbie Pickford, Cherwell’s lead member for housing, said it was a “win-win situation” for both councils and residents.

She said: “The purchase of the sites will allow Cherwell to transform existing, vacant eyesores into affordable housing opportunities in key locations for residents in the district.

“Soon these sites will become the focus of attention for all of the right reasons.”

Plans have yet to be submitted, but if approved work at the sites is expected to start later this year and should be complete by March 2015.

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