Jobs bonanza as £40m retail park is approved

The new retail park will include Marks & Spencer and a Next store

PLANS for a £40m retail park in Bicester have been approved by councillors.

Consolidated Property Group will build the shopping hub at the new Kingsmere estate, creating 300 full and part time jobs in the process.

The facility will include a Next and Marks & Spencer.

There are also plans for £1m of highway improvements on the A41.

In a statement the developer said it hoped the site would be “fully open by early 2019”.

It is the second time CPG has applied to build the retail park at the South West Bicester site.

Last year plans to build six shops, a restaurant, gym and a car park at land on the same site, off Oxford Road, were refused on appeal.

The amended plans included 345 car parking spaces and the retail units were moved away from homes.

The A41 will be widened so an access lane to the park can be created, future-proofing the road to cater for additional traffic for another decade.

During the Cherwell District Council hearing, councillors were told a report had been commissioned to look at the retail impact assessment. It concluded Bicester town centre would not be significantly impacted by the Bicester Gateway development.

However, representatives for Tesco, Bicester Sports Association and developer U and I Group opposed the development citing traffic concerns and the impact of the retail park on the town centre.

U and I Group and Bicester Sports Association are in partnership to redevelop pitches at Oxford Road into a retail park.

Cllr Richard Mould said he backed the recommendation for approval although he had opposed the plans last year based on traffic issues, lack of parking and overdevelopment of the site.

He said: “I think the effort the developers have put in on this plan has answered most of the questions I had last year.

“On the whole I think this is a good development for Bicester. I haven’t spoken to anybody that’s objected to the shops going out there.”

Cllr Lynn Pratt said it was unfortunate the shops could not go in the town centre. She said: “But there is a need for shops to service the town of Bicester as it continues to grow.

“It’s ludicrous residents have to travel to other towns to access stores.

“Residents will be delighted to see a development like this.”

Cllr Ian Corkin said he believed the development would eventually help lift the town centre. He said: “If you are surrounded by a vibrant retail economy I think that will serve it well into the future.”

In a statement CPG said it welcomed the decision. It said: “We are aiming to have the retail park fully open by early 2019 and will be announcing the full tenant line up to complement M&S and Next as soon as we have concluded contracts with other operators.

“The local support has been very much appreciated and has been a major factor in ensuring that these new shops, which will create a very valuable 300 full and part time jobs, are part of the future of Bicester.”

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