WORK has started on the final phase of a £70m redevelopment of Bicester town centre after work was delayed by six months.

Preparatory work on the £6.6m development – to include a library, hotel, offices and shops – began last week.

The five-storey £6.6m building will go on Franklins Yard car park and council bosses are planning for a spring 2016 opening.

Rising construction costs saw the plans put on hold so the Pioneer Square shopping development nearby could be completed. It opened in July 2013.

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It will include a library, Cherwell District Council offices, 53-room Travelodge hotel, office and retail units on the car park, off of Sheep Street.

The council plan will not include new parking spaces but the council has said there are enough throughout the town to make up the difference.

Council lead member for estates and economy Norman Bolster said: “I think most people think it is a good job to get the whole of that project done.

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 Norman Bolster

“The original plan was to do the whole lot in one but we all know what happened in 2008 with the financial crisis, so we had to do it bit by bit in stages.

“We were very lucky to have got the first stage done when we did. We were always determined to finish the project.”

The car park was closed to the public on January 5, for the demolition of Broadribb Cycle shop outbuildings and survey work.

Mr Bolster added: “We hope it will finish what needed to be done in Bicester and that it will bring more people to the town in the same way the first phase of Pioneer Square did.”

For the first time Bicester Local History Society will also have a permanent exhibition area in the new library.

Chairman Bob Hessian said last year: “For the local history society’s point of view it is great news. It is the start of a bigger and better presence for the history society.”

The new building will provide 4,643sq m of space and face the new Wesley Lane, Wesley Square and Pioneer Square.

Though costs for the final stage have risen with inflation, the council has said the whole town project will remain within its budget.

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