THE start of work on Bicester’s 5,000 home eco town has been delayed and diggers are not expected to roll onto site until the spring.

Developer A2 Dominion said it was still in the final stage of buying the land for the first phase, which will include 393 homes, shops and an eco business centre.

A strategy board meeting was told last week it was hoped work would start in March or April.

It comes as the housing association A2 Dominion also confirmed a masterplan for the entire site would not be finished for another year.

North West Bicester was one of four sites chosen by the Government in summer 2009 to develop an eco settlement.

Plans for the first phase were approved in August 2011 and the land sold to developers, Resolution Property and Altitude Real Estate LLP months later. At the time there were hopes work would start last February.

Later A2 Dominion said it planned to start work at the site, farmland off the B4100 Banbury Road, either before or just after Christmas, and a traffic order as part of the development work was put in place.

Tony Walton, chairman of anti eco town group BaECON (Bicester Against Eco Con), labelled the development a “shambles”.

He said: “The people of Bicester have no idea what is going on.

“Until A2 Dominion complete the land purchase, there is no developer in place and Cherwell must be keeping fingers crossed that they don’t run away.”

Gerry Walker, development director of A2Dominion South, said the firm would be in a position to start a fortnight after the sale was completed.

Meanwhile, work to complete the masterplan would take another year, but would accompany an outline planning application for the entire site in early 2014, the board was told.

Cherwell planning officer Jenny Barker, part of the eco team, said more work needed to be done in areas of transport impact on site, energy and how to reduce water demand.

She said: “It takes a long time because quite a lot needs to be done to get to the point we have a robust masterplan and one we are confident meets a high standard.”

A2 says the masterplan is a lengthy piece of work because of the project’s size and ambition, but “anticipated” a public consultation this summer on the draft masterplan.