NEXT and Marks and Spencer have both pledged to open new stores in Bicester.

The retail giants are among several shops set to move to a new retail park in the town off the A41.

Consolidate Property Group has been given permission to open three shops, a restaurant and a gym close to Bicester services.

Resident Phil McMillan said he hoped it would encourage more high street retailers into the town.

He added: "Since moving to Bicester, the retail experience has been the only disappointment, so we look forward to being able to walk or cycle to the Bicester Gateway rather than spending 30 minutes each way in a car.

"Hopefully this will be the first of many developments that attracts major retailers into our fast-growing town, allowing local people to shop in Bicester rather than Banbury, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury or Oxford."

Kingsmere Residents Association co-chairman Graham Brogden said his group was 'delighted' the Bicester Gateway retail scheme had been approved.

He said: "While it is unfortunate there are not currently the right size units in the town centre to accommodate such retailers as Next and M&S so we are pleased about this positive development for the whole of Bicester.

Another resident Matt Maunder said it was 'fantastic' that 'the needs of the local community had finally been recognised'.

He said: "As a Bicester resident with a young family it will be extremely useful to have retailers like Next and M&S locally, where options have been lacking up until now."

The Bicester Gateway plans were previously refused by Cherwell District Council over concerns of traffic build-up on the A41 and its impact on nearby residents.

Consolidate Property Group addressed concerns by adding 100 parking spaces and reducing the height of buildings.

The company also pledged to improve the A41 entrance by widening the road to tackle traffic build-up.

Dan Bramwell of CPG said: "The committee's decision is very welcome and we look forward to progressing matters so that we can start onsite as soon as possible.

"The local support has been very much appreciated and has been a major factor in ensuring that these new shops, which will create a very valuable 300 full and part time jobs, are part of the future of Bicester."

CPG hopes to open the park by early 2019 and will announce the full line-up of shops one contracts have been completed.