A NEW warehouse development the size of eight football pitches in Bicester is set to begin in September after changes to the plan were approved by Cherwell District Council.

The 500,000sq ft development, west of Howes Lane and north of Middleton Stoney Road, and was originally refused by almost all of Bicester’s councillors.

But after developer Albion Land negotiated with the planning committee, building of the warehouse – called Axis J9 – is set to start in a months’ time.

As one of its compromises with the council, Albion will not have any construction vehicles using Howes Lane to get onto the site, and instead all access will be from Middleton Stoney Road.

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In addition, the 150 homes which are also part of the plans will no longer be built until a new 'strategic link road', which is largely a realignment of Howes Lane, has been completed.

After Albion's first application, residents on Howes Lane hit out, complaining that the height of the five new warehouses, close to existing homes, would be unattractive.

As a result, they will now be approximately two metres shorter.

However one councillor still does not agree with the plans.

Oxfordshire county councillor for Bicester Les Sibley said he was still concerned about the impact the build would have on the town’s infrastructure.

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He said: “We need good and proper traffic management in place to help minimalise the impact the development will have on the road network, landscape, eco-town and residents of Howes Lane.

"Over the past decade, residents have been at their wits end as they have suffered from traffic, noise, delays and congestion because of various developments in and around Howes Lane.”

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Councillors urged Albion Land to consider realigning Howes Lane before building started to make the road better suited to the growing Bicester, as well as create a new crossing or tunnel under the railway line.

However, this has not been agreed and the developer has said it will build a new crossing in Easter 2021.

Mr Sibley said: “It would be better for the tunnel to be built sooner rather than later so that the existing houses can cope with the increase in traffic that will come with this latest development.”

One Bicester resident who has asked not to be named said: "If it was decided that Bicester had to be the place for this warehouse, then why wasn’t a junction created with direct access from the M40?

"Instead, the roads around Bicester and surrounding villages will be even more clogged with lorries and associated traffic.

"Surely these are the things which the council should be considering, especially after passing a motion to combat climate change last week, and yet they still insist in demolishing the green belt."

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The area was identified for employment development by the district council as part of its Local Plan 2011-2031, and the site is expected to create between 900 and 1,200 jobs.

Axis J9 is to be built in three phases: phases one and two will comprise of five 'mid-sized' units and eight smaller units ranging in size between 3.400 and 64,000sq ft.

Phase three will be built to match individual occupier requirements with units ranging from between 100,000sq ft and 250,000sq ft and will be available freehold or leasehold.

Cherwell District Council said this week it was 'pleased' to have approved the application.

A spokesman said: "The developers have addressed some key concerns, including removing the temporary access to the site from Howes Lane and reducing the proposed height of the buildings.”

Simon Parsons, director at Albion Land, added: “We are already in active negotiations with companies looking for distribution and production space. They range from businesses based in Bicester as well as those from across Oxfordshire, nationally and internationally.

"Bicester offers a strong, well-connected location, a ready-made workforce and significant combined rent and business rates savings compared to similar south east buildings. We are able to start delivering employment space resulting in new jobs which will build a sustainable community for Bicester.”