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Town has a vision for the future
A CULTURAL quarter, a new park and a centre of sporting excellence are all part of a new vision for Bicester.
Councillors have been given a first glimpse of a blueprint for how Bicester could develop over the next 30 years.
Proposals include splitting the town centre into different quarters creating a civic and cultural quarter, including a theatre and art gallery, an education and leisure area, retail quarter, mixed use station quarter and specialist retail quarter.
Another idea is creating a new park of almost 13 acres on Pingle Field and some of the neighbouring sports pitches.
It would have footpaths better linking Bicester Village and the town centre, giving local business a chance to tap into custom from some of its five million visitors.
To replace the lost sports land, three sites have been identified for a potential “sports centre of excellence”.
These include land in the north of Graven Hill, near Rodney House, or Kingsmere, or the North West Bicester eco town.
But one local councillor raised concerns townspeople could lose Garth Park, although Cherwell District Council say the seven-acre park will not be “compromised”.
Les Sibley said: “As I understand it there is a potential bombshell if they are planning to replace Garth Park with a new town park.
“It has been mentioned in various meetings about replacing Garth House with a hotel or even business units, which would be a shame for the people of Bicester.”
Elsewhere in the masterplan, a new perimeter road link could be built from the Little Chesterton junction, on the A41, via Graven Hill and an east Bicester business park, then joining Gavray Drive.
Across Bicester a total of 256 acres of land has been identified for employment, which could create 20,000 jobs in the town.
The blueprint comes weeks after Cherwell Council unveiled its local plan, which is a statutory plan detailing land available for future housing and employment over the coming two decades.
The blueprint shows more detail and is the council’s “aspiration” for Bicester.
Both plans will go out to public consultation next month.
Cherwell’s executive member for estates Norman Bolster said: “If a town stagnates it dies, so it’s crucial that doesn’t happen.
“The masterplan focuses on more specific development, where the local plan is more about areas that could be expanded.
“It is aspirational, but if you put the masterplan over the local plan it fits in quite well.”