BICESTER may have another 1,650 homes built on its borders under plans unveiled by the Ministry of Defence yesterday.

It comes amid a spate of schemes for new housing in the area, which could see the town become bigger than Banbury.

The MoD is hoping to sell off the D and E Sites at its Graven Hill depot – which are currently used by the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency – and concentrate its operations at site C, near Arncott.

Defence Estates, the property arm of the MoD, has submitted proposals to Cherwell District Council to have 130 hectares of land designated for homes and business use.

The proposals say that 1,650 homes, along with schools and businesses, could be built on the site by 2026.

Housing developments already planned around Bicester include the 5,000-home eco-town, on farmland north-west of the town, and another 500 at Gavray Drive, alongside the Chiltern Line railway route. Meanwhile, work has just started on the Kingsmere development, to the south-west, where 1,600 houses will be built.

If the MoD proposal goes ahead, along with the other developments, the population of the town could eventually rise by about 25,000 from the current 33,000. Banbury’s population is 44,000.

There are fears Bicester could become overdeveloped if adequate infrastructure is not put in place to cope with such a large population increase.

Ben Jackson, chairman of the chamber of commerce, said: “It’s essential that job and infrastructure creation comes with, not after, the growth and must be thought through and planned, starting now. We don’t want a repeat of the 1980s, when Bicester was developed without the necessary planning.”

Defence Estates said the benefits of its plan were that the site had just one owner, was a brownfield area and had much of the infrastructure in place already.

St David’s Barracks, part of the Graven Hill complex, which is home to the Royal Logistic Corps’s 23 Pioneer Regiment, would remain in military use.

A Defence Estates spokesman said the MoD continually reviewed its bases and ways of improving military capability.

She said: “The proposals for Graven Hill do not involve moving parts of the site to other (towns), as they’re intended to consolidate what’s there.

“The site is brownfield land, with good access to Bicester town centre, and some of the land being developed for employment use would represent a boost to local job opportunities.”

An outline planning application could be submitted as early as next year.

No-one was available for comment at Cherwell District Council.