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Bicester eco town gets the green light

Published date : 11 August 2011

Cherwell District Council has today granted detailed planning permission for 393 new homes and a renewable energy centre as part of the first ‘Exemplar’ phase of the NW Bicester Eco development.  

P3Eco (Bicester) Ltd and its development partner A2Dominion welcomed the decision, which also provides outline consent for new employment, retail, social and community facilities as well as a site for a primary school to form a local centre at the heart of a sustainable new 'village'.

The proposals will unlock a £6m investment from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) in the delivery of 119 affordable homes as part of this phase of development. The resolutions to grant permission are subject to completion of a legal agreement.

Ian Inshaw, chairman of P3Eco (Bicester) Ltd, said:

“We are delighted that we have now received the Council’s support for the proposals. When permission is granted, it will herald the start of delivering the NW Bicester eco development as the largest Code 5 and zero carbon scheme in the country. We are determined to meet or exceed the Eco Town PPS standards and to promote innovation in sustainable living. Our vision is that Bicester as a whole will use this opportunity as a focus for regeneration. The town has the opportunity to pioneer and become a centre of excellence for green technology.”

The landmark scheme will set new benchmarks for collaborative working and for mass housing needs in the UK. As one of the biggest housing developments constructed to Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, each house will have high standards of water efficiency, exceptional levels of insulation in walls, windows and roofs and make use of modern green technology such as photovoltaic panels and district heating systems.

This is all at a time when the housing market has suffered the effects of global recession and reflects the commitment of the entire consortium behind NW Bicester to make this development truly environmentally supportive.

As the project moves to the next phase in developing an overall Masterplan, P3Eco will continue to work with A2Dominion and its partners including Cassadian Homes (Bicester) Ltd, Oxford & Mid Shires Cooperative Society, Oxford Brookes University and the Oxford & Cherwell Valley College to deliver a shared vision for Bicester.

“We aim to submit our application for the entire site by early 2012," said Mr Inshaw.

"This will incorporate all of our sustainable targets including the need to ensure that the right mix of employment is achieved and that the habitat within and outside the scheme is improved. Meeting the requirements of a new and expanding town, yet crucially, enhancing the natural landscape. It is a challenge that we welcome and wish to take forward with all the agencies involved.”

John Knevett, deputy chief executive and chief commercial officer of A2Dominion, said:

“We are tremendously excited about the NW Bicester eco town project and we are delighted that the initial ‘exemplar’ phase has been granted planning permission. This is an important first stage milestone for the project and comes following close consultation with the local community and stakeholders, who have helped to shape these plans. We are fully committed to delivering a quality exemplar project of which future residents, Bicester, Cherwell and A2Dominion can be proud.”

A2Dominion has put together a robust programme to deliver this pioneering first phase, and at the forefront will be an infrastructure contract to ensure the road to service the school is built at the beginning of the project.

Sir Terry Farrell, whose practice is acting as the masterplanning architects for the exemplar and masterplan, said:

“I am delighted that Cherwell District Council has granted planning permission to this first phase of the Northwest Bicester eco development. Phase One will kick-start a much larger initiative to transform Bicester into the UK’s first Eco Town, attracting the investment, education and skills that will turn the town into a hub for the UK’s emerging green economy and deliver long-lasting benefits for the whole town and wider area.”

The Exemplar phase will be providing 30% affordable housing to meet local needs. It will encourage people to re-think their transport habits, to rely less on private car use and consider car clubs, bike use and a high frequency bus service with ‘real time’ travel information within a design framework providing routes, including into Bicester, that will positively encourage cycling and walking. Well over 40% of the Exemplar site is green infrastructure offering provision for play, informal recreation, biodiversity and allotments.

P3Eco has also secured a number of significant partnerships to assist in delivery of jobs, community infrastructure and training on the Exemplar site. More than 400 jobs are planned for the Exemplar site to include an eco-business centre with flexible tenancies and virtual business services (ideally suited to start-up companies). This will promote work in eco-construction and environmental goods and services as well as provide office accommodation - a resource badly needed in Bicester. Training for the future will be delivered in partnership with Oxford and Cherwell Valley College (OCVC) with new curriculum development specializing in eco-construction. The Exemplar will also provide a very high-speed broadband connection to enable residents to work from home.

Other notable partnerships include Oxford & Mid-Shires Co-operative who will investigate a variety of initiatives such as the sourcing and sale of locally grown food and sustainable products. An Eco Bicester Research and Innovation Centre (EBRIC) established in partnership with Oxford Brookes University and innovation incubators Oxford Innovation aims to put Bicester at the heart of sustainable development and low carbon living throughout the world.

David Warburton, HCA Head of Area, added:

“This important decision is great news for the project and for local people in Bicester, who stand to benefit from an exceptional new community built to very high environmental standards.

“We are strongly supportive of the plans for this community, and that is why we have agreed to invest in the affordable housing. I am delighted that the plans have been supported by councillors and I look forward to seeing work on this exciting and important scheme get underway.”

The Eco Bicester project is supporting subsidised home insulation and improvements to walking, cycling and public transport and a new zero carbon sixth form centre at Coopers School. P3Eco, together with Cassadian Homes (Bicester) Ltd has also promoted two significant initiatives in the town centre. Work on a new community centre, the John Paul II Centre, based at the Church of Immaculate Conception is well underway and will be completed in August. This will be one of the largest buildings in the UK built to Passivhaus standards. A Demonstration Building opened at The Garth in May 2011, showcasing green technologies and local businesses, and providing a focal point for the eco development.

Ends

 

For further information, please contact Fiona Brenner on 07976 057 509, fbrenner@p3eco.com or Ben Lowndes at the HCA on 0117 9037 7209 or ben.lowndes@hca.gsx.gov.uk

Notes to Editors:

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is the single, national housing and regeneration delivery agency for England. Our vision is to create opportunity for people to live in homes they can afford in places they want to live, by enabling local authorities and communities to deliver the ambition they have for their own areas.

Full planning permission has been granted for:

  • 393 residential units
  • An energy centre (up to 400 square metres) with means of access, car parking, landscape, amenity space and service infrastructure

Outline planning permission has been granted for:

  • A nursery of up to 350 square metres 
  • A community centre of up to 350 square metres 
  • Three retail units of up to 770 square metres (including but not exclusively a convenience store, a post office and a pharmacy)
  • An Eco-Business Centre of up to 1,800 square metres 
  • Office accommodation of up to 1,100 square metres 
  • A pub of up to 190 square metres 
  • A site for a primary school measuring up to 1.34 hectares with access and layout to be determined

P3Eco is the promoter of the NW Bicester Eco development, along with partners, the A2Domnion Group (housing provider), Terry Farrell & Partners (architects and masterplanners), Barton Willmore (Integrated Planning & Design Consultancy), and Hyder (Engineering Consultancy).

 

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