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Opinion divided on 'space age' building
PLANS have been announced for further redevelopment of Bicester town centre aimed at breathing life into a historic shopping precinct.
An application has been submitted to knock down two units in Wesley Lane, off Sheep Street, for five penthouse-style flats and restaurant.
The precinct is thought to be one of the oldest in the UK but has been hit by closures in recent years.
The new plans have met with mixed opinion.
One business owner said the plan – to run alongside Franklin’s Yard Car Park – would be out of keeping with the area.
Steve Newland, director of The Newland’s Tea Rooms, two doors down from Wesley Lane, branded the planning application “futuristic”. He said: “It doesn’t fit in at all, it looks space age.
“We are a 1678 building so the two wouldn’t go together. Sticking something like that in is like dropping in a spaceship. It wouldn’t reflect any building in the town.”
Cherwell District Council will make a final decision but its conservation officer Rose Todd raised concerns about the size.
In a report to decision makers, she said: “The buildings need to be on the same scale as the lane.”
She warned the “oppressive” building could dwarf Sheep Street premises, adding: “Franklin’s Yard and Wesley Lane need a comprehensive redevelopment scheme which provides cohesion and greater visual unity.”
But Simon Alcock, director of Home Comforts, said: “We are all for it because it will hopefully bring people into the town. It needs a big tidy up down here.”
Wesley Lane owner Brian Westbury last year got permission to knock down numbers two to five for four retail units and six flats.
He was not available for comment at the time of going to press.