WORK on a £40 million retail park set to transform shopping in Bicester has finally begun.

Next and Marks & Spencer Simply Food are both set to move into site which has space for three shops, a restaurant and a gym.

The park, being built off the A41 next to the Kingsmere housing estate, aims to save people in Bicester from having to travel out of town for high street brands.

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Developer Consolidated Property Group originally dubbed the site 'Bicester Gateway' but has since changed its name to Kingsmere Retail Park to reflect the location.

Managing director Martin Ridgway said: "It is great news to finally get onsite and see the retail park take shape.

"Being adjacent to Countryside Properties’ Kingsmere Village we decided to change its name to reflect its true location.

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"Since the development was first proposed there has been a radical change in the retail market but some big names have already signed-up for units and others are eager to follow.

"Next and M&S Simply Food have now signed with their latest format flagship stores and there are others in the pipeline."

The site of the new Kingsmere Retail Park. Picture: Google Maps

The plans were approved almost two year ago, in April 2017, after previously being refused over concerns about traffic on the already-busy A41.

There were also concerns about the impact of the site on the town centre's existing shops.

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Consolidated Property addressed the worries with revisions including 100 extra parking spaces, widening the A41 entry and reducing the height of buildings close to nearby homes.

In response to the town centre concerns, councillors at the time welcomed the new retail space as a site where high street chains could find big enough stores that could not be accommodated in the town centre.

Mr Ridgway added: "Kingsmere Retail Park will build on the success of Bicester as an attractive retail, residential and commercial centre.

"The scheme is designed to meet the needs of local residents who will no longer have to travel outside of the area to shop and will at last be able to visit well-known modern high street stores on their doorstep."

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Construction, being undertaken by Jehu Project Services, started this week and is expected to be completed by the end of October.

It is expected to create more than 300 full-time equivalent jobs for the local area, including part-time roles. There will also be 100 staff employed from local contractors for the build.

Andrew Carrington, director of Countryside Properties which owns the Kingsmere development said: "One of the major benefits of living at Kingsmere is that residents can enjoy access to high-class leisure and retail facilities. Kingsmere Retail Park will continue to build on this, giving the community a place where they can enjoy some of the leading brands right on their doorstep.

"It will bring a new level of convenience and experience for everyone living here, while also helping to make sure that Kingsmere continues to thrive in Bicester."