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Bicester Garden Town - Great in principle, short on detail!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014 17:40

CPRE has welcomed in principle the announcement in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement that Bicester is to become a 'garden town'.

According to Cherwell District Council, 'Bicester is to receive a multi-million pound award to fund the delivery of 13,000 homes, 21,500 jobs and a new motorway junction'. It stresses that the houses are those that are already outlined in their proposed Local Plan (currently going through an Examination in Public).

On the face of it, this will bring much needed money for infrastructure to help Bicester cope with the enormous growth it has dealt with in recent years and the further expansion still planned.

Whilst it is not clear exactly what environmental criteria will be applied to the housing, we hope the 'garden town' tag will also bring with it high sustainability standards, adding to Bicester's potential to be a centre of excellence for sustainable building and boosting a local 'green economy'.

However, specific details have yet to come forward and we are told that negotiations between CDC and the Government will begin in the New Year. It is noticeable that George Osborne's statement said that the government will provide its backing 'subject to value for money', not subject to any environmental considerations!

Our concern will be that any detailed proposals seek to protect the countryside and rural villages around Bicester that have already suffered the brunt of the town's significant and rapid expansion. For example, the Town & Country Planning Association say that a Green Belt is a fundamental aspect of a garden city, so perhaps a Bicester Green Belt might be something to think about?

For now though, let us be positive and recognise that in principle at least, Government money for infrastructure and sustainable housing is a welcome investment in our County's future.

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