A proposal to demolish a grade II listed building to make room for new flats has been refused by a planning committee.

Bicester Magistrates Court was the subject of a planning application which sought to have the building demolished and replaced with 48 apartments, together with landscaping, car parking, bin stores, secure cycle parking and associated infrastructure.

The proposal – submitted by GG Oxford Investments Limited - was for a three-storey building with 13 one-bedroom apartments and 35 two-bedroom apartments, a crescent shaped footprint and a central courtyard to the rear.

The main entrance to the building would have been along the Queens Avenue frontage which would also have provided the only vehicle access to the site via the existing vehicular access point.

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At Cherwell District Council’s planning meeting on Thursday, July 14, the planning committee voted to refuse to let the development take place.  

In the meeting, Councillor Les Sibley said: “This planning application has a high level of public interest and concern among Bicester residents.

“Bicester Town Council and Chesterton Town Council strongly object to this planning application.

“The proposed development on Queens Avenue, which is situated on the outskirts of the town centre, is not allocated in the local plan.

“The development site is a main route through the town for traffic from Oxford Road to the Buckingham and Banbury roads via Field Street.

“Which are already recognised as areas that suffer from high levels of traffic congestion, noise, light and air pollution.

“The area already suffers from higher levels of air pollution than anywhere else in Bicester, and exceeds the World Health Organization’s limits.

“The proposed development does not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the area.”

Councillor John Broad said: “The site itself is very historic. The area would really lose its image if this all went through.

“And as far as I’m concerned, although it’s an interesting proposal, it’s got lots of problem with safety.

“I’m suggesting and proposing that this application should be refused.”

The planning proposal received 20 objections, including from Bicester Town Council, Chesterton Town Council and Cherwell District Council’s conservation officer.

Bicester Magistrates Court has been unused since its closure in 2016, with Homes England taking ownership of the property.

The site was put up for sale last year and calls had been made from residents and a handful of councillors for it to be converted into a multi-use venue for the community.

Mr Broad said: “Along with Councillor Les Sibley and Councillor Wayne plus many others we hope that the magistrates court building might be able to be used for something useful for the town residents and visitors such as a museum.”


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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