DIDCOT will move into a new era this year as the town is expected to see the first of many major changes, town leaders have said.

The iconic cooling towers of Didcot Power Station are set to begin to come down in 2014 and Didcot will also prepare for a major retail development and a new housing development bringing 2,000 homes.

Town council leader Margaret Davies said: “Didcot is going to change a lot over the next 10 years. This is probably the first of those major 10 years.”

The town is awaiting plans for a £125m retail expansion of the Orchard Centre, and a £7.6m project on the Didcot Parkway railway station forecourt is also expected to be completed early this year after more than 18 months.

Work is also expected to start on a 2,030-home estate on land north east of the town to include a leisure centre, nursery, schools and a care home.

Mrs Davies said: “The landscape of Didcot is changing with the power station coming down, the station forecourt being completed, possibly the next stage of the Orchard Centre coming forward and more houses being started.”

But she warned the new development would have to come with infrastructure.

She said: “The challenge is to build a community so that new people feel part of the existing town.”