A LARGE chunk of Bicester town centre has been sold off to investors.

The 25 shops which make up Crown Walk in Bicester have been sold on amid plans to breath new life into the town centre.

The shopping parade, built more than 30 years ago to run alongside Sheep Street, has long fallen victim to a growing number of empty units.

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But the latest sale to new owners LCP, a national commercial property and investment company, is hoped to bring the ‘outdated’ parade back into the 21st century.

Bicester Advertiser:

Cherwell District Council lead member for economy, regeneration and property Lynn Pratt said: “I am hopeful that the new investment company will spend money on Crown Walk to help bring it up to date – which is needed.

“Anything that can breathe a bit of life back into the town centre is good. Bicester is not the only town centre experiencing retail problems, so it will be nice if we can attract some more high-profile names.”

The 48,820sq ft Crown Walk shopping parade was built in 1988 and previously owned by Sainsbury’s which has a neighbouring store.

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It currently includes a mix of high street and local shops such as Vodafone, Options Beauty and the Boutique, H Samuel, Boots Opticians, Thomas Cook, Peacocks and Thomson.

Despite having a long-running problem of empty units, it has also had a few success stories including Coles Bookstore which moved recently from one unit to another to expand its business.

Ms Pratt added: “I was delighted when Coles decided to stay and expand in Crown Walk. For a book shop to be doing so well these days is great.”

Bicester Advertiser:

New owner LCP, which also owns four shops in Holm Square, Bicester, said it is committed to bringing new names to the open-air parade.

Retail director Julian Diamond said: “In the past 12 months, we have acquired 37 retail schemes – from small local convenience parades to larger shopping centres.

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“Crown Walk marks a major investment and we are looking forward to working with tenants and attracting new name.”

The company says last year it maintained 93 per cent occupancy of its retail schemes which includes shops in London Road, Headington, Cogges Hill Road in Witney, and one shop in Magdalen Road, Oxford.