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PLANS for dedicated parking spaces to serve a planned town centre hotel have been dropped in a council U-turn.

Cherwell District Council submitted plans for a £6.5m five-storey community building over Franklin’s Yard car park, which will house Cherwell’s Bicester office, a new library, shops or restaurants, offices, and a 53-bedroom Travelodge hotel.

Originally the council said a total of 68 car park spaces in the Sainsbury’s car park would be set aside for hotel guests.

But this week it confirmed “there will not be a dedicated area within the multi-storey car park” – meaning hotel guests will be expected to use other car parks around the town.

The U-turn came as a string of other concerns were raised about the planned development.

Residents said the building is too big, its design is “inappropriate” and it will change Bicester’s skyline.

Dr Terry Reid, of Hunt Close, was one of about a dozen residents who wrote to the council opposing the development.

He said: “The plan to build a new community building has been ruined by the addition of two extra storeys to accommodate a cheap hotel, the need for which is unclear and the design for which is unacceptable.

“At five storeys, this will be disproportionately tall compared to the local buildings and will permanently change the Bicester skyline.

“The building is on the opposite side of the road to a residential area but has tower block proportions and design, as might be found in a city centre.

“The hotel rooms will overlook local residential properties, invading privacy 24 hours a day.”

Michael Sheppard, of Lambourne Crescent, called for the plans to be refused and said the building would have a “negative impact” on the town.

He said the design does not take into account the “relative scale of the building to the human form” and will be over-bearing.

Mr Sheppard said: “The current proposal is not the best that can be provided on the site, do not sell short the people of Bicester.”

English Heritage opposed the building on poor design grounds and said it caused harm to the conservation area.

The council said it had modified the design, but it was planned to be a “landmark building” and that was reflected in its size.

Cherwell’s spokesman Jemma Callow pointed out the proposals were subject to personal taste, and the council had also received many positive comments.

She said: “The design team has made many modifications to reflect initial concerns while maintaining the many uses required of the building occupiers, and staying within the financial envelope.”

Regarding parking, Miss Callow added: “The hotel operators are very experienced in town centre developments and we have had many detailed discussions that have satisfied all their requirements regarding car parking for their clientele and our local issues.”

The application is expected to be decided in the next few weeks.

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