Once again the district council has let down the people of Bicester by allowing two of our new Pioneer Square shop units to be taken over by a gym. I have nothing against gyms, but they have their place elsewhere in our town and there are several successful examples of that.

But we were promised new shops and restaurants and a major upgrade of our town centre.

Instead, we already have shop premises that have been taken over by uses which do very little to improve the footfall and vibrancy of our town centre. Moreover, few of the new units are being occupied by shops and restaurants which significantly improve the quality of the shopping and eating opportunities it offers. I can’t even buy a decent pair of shoes in Bicester these days.

Bicester town centre needs better quality shopping and eating places as much as it needs the lower end of the market. But the opportunities for that to happen are being allowed to slip away. As the town expands, the need for more and better shopping facilities is going to increase.

The plan is for Bicester to become larger than Banbury, so it will need a town centre which offers at least as much as Banbury does today. Looking around the town centre, it is difficult to see how and where that is likely to happen. All the more reason to safeguard now those sites and premises which are intended for retail use.

Colin Cockshaw

Willow Drive


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