APPROVED plans for 42 apartments in Bicester for the elderly have been praised as an economic boost for the town centre.

At a Cherwell District Council planning committee meeting last week, councillors approved the proposal by Churchill Retirement Living.

The three-story building will be developed on a site in Victoria Road previously used as a Winner’s Bargain Centre.

An estimated 53 people will be able to live in the three-storey building, which developers say will be ready by November 2016.

Planning director for Churchill Retirement Living Andrew Burgess said the influx of elderly residents would be a boost to the town’s shops and facilities.

Mr Burgess, who said building would begin within two months, added: “We think there is a need for sheltered houses in Bicester because there is a growing elderly population. We are very pleased with the outcome.

“I think it is going to be of great benefit for the town. It will also be a big improvement to the appearance of the area, which is currently just a building site.”

Plans also include communal facilities with two separate car parks, which will fit 26 parking spaces, spread over Victoria Road and Linden Road.

Residents will enjoy the benefits of a lodge manager, 24-hour care line, an owners lounge and a guest suite.

Sunderland Drive resident Terry Beckett, who has lived in Bicester for 23 years, said: “I think it will be excellent if it is run for the right reasons.

“As long as it is run the right way with the right staff it will be a good thing because elderly people are an important part of society.

“I think it will make the area look much better now as it will tidy Bicester up a bit.”

Councillor Michael Gibbard, Cherwell’s lead member for planning, said elderly residents will be close to public transport, making the spot ideal.

Mr Gibbard said: “People are now living longer than ever before so we need to put provisions in place to help them retain their independence for as long as possible.

“This application will meet that need while bringing a forgotten brownfield site back into use in a prominent location close to the town centre.

“Not only does this reduce their reliance on others but also the risk of isolation as they are surrounded by people of a similar generation.”