There has been some debate over the past few months around the fate of Bicester’s Magistrates’ court. The locally listed building was closed in 2016, with Homes England taking ownership of the property.

The current plan is to demolish the building and put up a block of modern flats. A proposal which after some initial opposition, seems to have gained support from some Bicester residents. Their central claim being that new housing will be beneficial for first-time buyers.

However, Councillor John Broad said: “Bicester is one of the fastest growing towns in Europe with massive housing developments yet to be constructed and so changing the use of the Magistrates Court to a huge block of flats is totally unnecessary.

“The site is also in the town conservation area, which seems to be ignored.”

The development is set to have no parking spaces for residents, in line with it being a ‘low-car’ complex with just eight parking spaces for visitors. Two of which will have electric charging infrastructure, and two will be disabled spaces.

John added: “The plans so far seem to follow the ‘in’ thoughts of government, that people will not have cars and will be walking and cycling everywhere and hence there will not be any real parking facilities. They of course ignore the rather obvious fact that people just might have visitors, need maintenance people to attend, need the ability for medical practitioners to attend or even the police or other emergency services, all of whom are supposed to walk or cycle.”

Some of the original opposition to the development came from Bicester councillors who argued that the court should be turned into a cultural or community centre. John said: “Along with Councillor Les Sibley and Councillor Wayne plus many others we hoped that the magistrates’ court building might be able to be used for something useful for the town residents and visitors such as a museum.

“Of course, the buildings being in public ownership get transferred to Homes England, whose sole job is to try to build more homes, not surprisingly. They have no interest in either the history of the site or building.”

It seems there is still some division over what should happen to the Magistrates’ court, but the likelihood is that it will become a development site for flats, rather than a cultural centre offering live music gigs, art galleries or a museum.

A further concern of some of the councillors is that this development could create a domino effect, and see other places, such as the police station converted as well.



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