COMMUNITY leaders have called for free parking as the final plans to complete Bicester’s £70m town centre regeneration were approved.
Cherwell District Council has given the go ahead to a £6.5m five-storey civic building, which will house its Bicester office, a new library, a 53-bedroom Travelodge Hotel, office and retail or restaurant units on Franklins Yard car park, which will close.
Both the Chamber of Commerce and independent Councillor Les Sibley renewed a call for free parking to be introduced across the town.
Acting chairman of Bicester and District Chamber of Commerce Ben Jackson said: “The completion of the town centre development with the community building will create a destination and draw visitors through.
“To maximise the investment a harmonised parking offer is needed across the town centre, one that is consistent and encourages customers to dwell longer and visit all areas of the town — three hours complimentary at all short stays would make Bicester comparable with other local centres.”
Cllr Sibley said: “The council is prepared to give up parking spaces for the community building and lose revenue, so why not help out businesses on the other side of the town centre.
“I would like to see the same Sainsbury’s parking policy rolled out across the town.”
Work will start this summer on the regeneration and should take about a year.