A MULTI-MILLION-POUND expansion for Tesco and Bicester Village was unveiled yesterday in a project that could bring more than 3,500 jobs to the town.
The two companies joined forces to announce their plans, which involve the supermarket opening up a new expanded store opposite its current position off the A41, and Bicester Village opening up 30 new shops in its place.
It will also lead to £11m in road improvements on the A41, Oxford Road and Pingle Drive in a move locals hoped would cut the chronic congestion around the area at peak times.
Tesco’s move is also anticipated to kick-start development of the 500,000sq ft Bicester Business Park on the land between the current Tesco/Bicester Village site and Wyevale Garden Centre to the south.
The supermarket giant wants to build a Tesco Extra, effectively doubling the current store’s size and creating 250 new jobs. It would cut traffic in Pingle Drive by about 50 per cent, a Bicester Village spokesman said.
Bicester Village would then expand into the current Tesco site with 30 new shops and take over the current 350-space parking area. It would lead to 500 new jobs.
A Bicester Business Park, which was first mooted five years ago, would add another 2,800 jobs.
Bicester Village has also confirmed it is in negotiations to take on the new 700-space park-and-ride site, on the Kingsmere estate, using it for extra parking for the designer outlet centre at weekends and bank holidays.
On Boxing Day, parts of Bicester were gridlocked as 30,000 shoppers descended on Bicester Village.
Spokesman Miranda Markham said: “These very significant highway works and the proposed park-and-ride will alleviate the current traffic congestion that Bicester Village experiences at its peak trading times.
“It is important to stress that these highway improvements are not just for the benefit of Bicester Village, they will also be of huge benefit to residents and visitors wishing to access the town centre.”
Simon Petar, Tesco’s corporate affairs manager, said: “Our Pingle Drive store has served Bicester well for more than 20 years, but the move to the Business Park would make it far easier to shop with us.” Store manager Chris Webb added: “The new store plans are really exciting and I’m sure they will be very popular.”
Plans are due to be submitted to Cherwell District Council next month and, if approved, work could start on the new Tesco store and phase one of the road improvements next year. The companies hope the bulk of the development work would be finished by 2015.
Nigel Wild, president of the Oxfordshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is really good news and shows Oxfordshire is still a thriving economy despite the recession. This will ultimately grow our economy and protect us against the impact of the recession.”
Chris Harris, of business park site owner London and Metropolitan, said the sale to Tesco would fund the road infrastructure for the site.
He added: “This will attract quality office jobs to the town.”
Traffic campaigner Sallie Wright said: “I really applaud this. It is a shame it’s going to take a couple of years, but they have listened to what people have been saying and the trouble it has caused, and are doing something about it.”
Bicester’s MP Tony Baldry said: “Bicester is one of the fastest growing towns in England and we need to make sure all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are properly put in place.”
- Public consultations will take place on May 18 and 19, from 11am-7pm, and 10am-4pm respectively, at the John Paul II Centre, behind the Church of the Immaculate Conception, The Causeway.
SOME of the main points of the expansion development:
Tesco’s new store will create 250 jobs, bringing the workforce to 480 in Spring 2014.
Bicester Village extension will create 500 jobs – it already employs about 1,000 people – a year later.
Phase One of the road improvements includes a new junction for Tesco and the business park, on the A41, which will be controlled by traffic lights.
Phase Two of the road improvements will include four lanes for traffic on the A41/Bicester Village junction, which will be controlled by traffic lights. There will be two dedicated lanes for
local Bicester traffic and two lanes into the village and out.
Hamburger-style roundabout to be built at the Esso roundabout on the A41, again traffic flows controlled by lights.
Developer London Metropolitan says the new business park will provide 2,800 jobs.
- Better cycle and footpaths to link Bicester Village and Bicester town centre
- The business park will include landscaping and three lakes. It will be more than half the size of Oxford Business Park.