BICESTER’S new health hub has been given the green light from Cherwell District Council but there are still strong concerns about how people are going to access the site safely.

The 3,350sqm building called Bicester Health and Wellbeing Hub will be built on the north side of Graven Hill and would also include a pharmacy. 

The council will ensure it meets high environmental standards and is seeking £320,000 of developer contributions to improve bus links to the site.

But there are still concerns about how people will  get to the hub by foot, car and bike.

Cherwell District councillor Les Sibley called for the decision to be deferred at the planning committe meeting on Thursday until a site visit had been made, but his proposal was lost.

Bicester Bike Users Group (Bicester BUG) objected the plans and representative Paul Troop spoke at the meeting.

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He said: "Logic would suggest that the entrance to the health centre should be the Bicester side of the health centre, but rather the entrance is on the far side which would add another 5-10 minutes for someone to access by foot."

Chair of the group George Bennett said: “Neither the landowner, the Cherwell District Council-owned Graven Hill Village Development Company, nor the applicant, the Alchester Medical Group, have thought properly about pedestrian or cycle access.

"There is a real lack of joined up thinking.

“The paths proposed within Graven Hill are also poor, consisting of a lot of paths shared between pedestrians and cyclists. This is not best practice and does not comply with current standards.

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“Shared paths don't work for either walkers or cyclists. This is a real shame and a missed opportunity to be so much better.”

Applicants Alchester Medical Group say it is open to having discussions with Bicester BUG but that creating new routes can be difficult.

Spokesperson Chris A’Court said: “We’ve had communication with Bicester Bug this week and remain open to having further discussions about cycling and walking routes in the Hub vicinity.

"It’s also important to note that creating some of these routes is much more difficult than it seems because of other interests and land ownership.

"It's still too early to confirm whether the cycle paths will be segregated or shared but this will be fully discussed before the Hub opens so that the correct choice is made."

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The hub will have 69 patient rooms, a new highway access road, an ambulance bay, service bay and a mobile medical unit bay.

The facility is designed to serve between 50,000 and 60,000 patients, but when it opens in late 2023, 40,000 patients are expected to be served.

If all goes to plan, it will be open by next Autumn.

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