SHOPPERS and businesses are pleased that a Bicester shopping area will soon have no empty units, but people are still disappointed with the state of Sheep Street.

All the shops in Pioneer Square, home to mainly independent businesses, are almost all open.

ALSO READ: Bicester Art Network set up pop-up art gallery in old M&S

The news comes as gourmet kebab restaurant German Doner Kebab is the latest space to be kitted out ahead of its opening later this month, and there are also plans to open a café next door where Peacocks used to be.

Business owners are happy to see shops are up and running particularly after the struggles caused by the pandemic.

Harman Kaur, owner of dessert parlour The Harvest Café in Pioneer Square which opened last summer, said: “When we opened, half of the town was empty – very few businesses were open but then recently as lockdown has ended things are getting back to normal now - it's great.”

Bicester Advertiser: Harman Kaur opened The Harvest Cafe last summer. Pic by Ed NixHarman Kaur opened The Harvest Cafe last summer. Pic by Ed Nix

Nigel French, who owns 31-year-old business Coles Books in Pioneer Square, said: “It’s been good because we have lovely customers – they look after us. It’s positive and it’s all quite exciting.”

But although shoppers are glad Pioneer Square is thriving, they say Sheep Street needs some attention.

ALSO READ: Bike group get in gear for Coles Books deliveries in Bicester

John Hawes, who lives in Launton, said: “This section (Pioneer Square) is really nice, but Sheep Street is a bit tatty now. It really needs some money put into it.”

Bicester Advertiser: Empty shop in Sheep Street. Pic: Ed NixEmpty shop in Sheep Street. Pic: Ed Nix

Bicester local Angela Scarrott said: “We need more shops - we don’t need any more cafes, we’ve got plenty of them. We have no shoe shops, you have to go out of Bicester to get shoes.

“We need a middle-aged clothes shop – there isn’t any. New Look and Sainsbury’s are the only shops and they’re not for everyone.”

There are eight empty units in Sheep Street – some of which have been 'wrapped' to make them look more attractive as shoppers pass by.

People say the opening of Bicester Shopping Park on the outskirts of the town had a negative effect on the street and would like to see more variety in the town centre.

ALSO READ: W.E Black Ltd boss slams Cherwell for 'negative' feedback to town centre flats plan

Bicester Advertiser: Former Clintons shop in Sheep Street. Pic by Ed NixFormer Clintons shop in Sheep Street. Pic by Ed Nix

Francesca Zotta former manager of Biagio the Jewellers, said: “It’s a shame – when M&S went, why did they do that? Where are the older people in Bicester supposed to go shopping apart from Sainsbury’s? I can drive out of town, but for older people who don’t - they can’t.

"They need to get something else in there (the former M&S shop) like a Waitrose. There’s lots of cafes and charity shops but things like an M&S or a Waitrose would be good just to have a choice."

Bicester Chamber of Commerce was contacted but failed to respond before this paper went to press.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or 01865 425 445.