Plans for the transformation of Bicester Market Square into a multi-use community hub have been boosted by the news that a £4.25 million funding pot has been formally approved.
It means that Cherwell District Council can now move to the next stages of consultation and design work that will help shape this high-profile town centre regeneration project.
The decision confirming the investment came at a full council meeting on 27 February, when the council’s budget for the 2023/24 financial year was approved.
Evidence from other similar improvements to the public realm around the UK shows that commercial trade could be increased by up to 40 per cent and empty shops reduced by up to 20 per cent.
Early design concepts have been drawn up and will soon be shared with the Bicester community. This will provide an opportunity to help shape the proposals before works begin, with the overall project currently scheduled for completion in 2025.
These designs include options such as areas for entertainment and children’s activities, portable market stalls for events and exhibitions, and outdoor cinema projections.
The next steps for the council will be to appoint specialist design and consultation companies. Later in 2023, an exhibition will be held inviting views from residents and local businesses on the Market Square transformation and how it should be delivered.
Councillor Ian Corkin, Deputy Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Economy at Cherwell District Council, said: “Our goal is to create a thriving hub where the local community and visitors can come together to enjoy a variety of experiences and events in a space that is much more visually attractive, with new lighting and landscaping.
“Currently, the Market Square is dominated by cars and parking, but by rebalancing that and delivering live arts events, markets and leisure activities, the area will be more accessible for pedestrians, as well as providing a footfall boost to local businesses, benefiting the local economy for everyone.
“I am delighted to be driving forward this investment in Bicester, and we will now be looking to engage as many members of the local community as possible to help shape the final plans.”
Graham Perryman, Former Bicester Chamber Chairman and Town Centre Task Group member, said: “We are delighted that this major investment has now been agreed to reimagine Bicester town centre. It is also good to hear that the next stages of development will include the whole Bicester community.
“The work undertaken by the task group to date has identified a number of themes which could underpin a transformational plan that will deliver a town centre of which everyone can be proud.”