In this special report on the changing face of Bicester, reporter Naomi Herring takes a look at what is making the town an increasingly popular commuter base

Bicester has been dubbed a “boom town” and a top location for commuters.

The town has mass developments bringing new trade, homes and a new high speed rail link to Oxford and London.

The 1970s saw a similar boom, according to Lewis’s Butchers, which has been in the town for more than 70 years.

Owner Andy Lewis, 53, said: “ It is an upcoming commuter town. It is the middle location between two major cities – Birmingham and London – with great access to both.

“It is a great place to live and has lots of amenities. It is definitely a boom town, which it was in the 1970s so it seems to have come full circle.

“A commuter town has its good and bad points. It pushes property prices up, although we still need affordable homes for younger people.”

Colleague Nigel Bossom added: “Bicester is becoming a thriving market town.”

The Times recently declared Bicester the UK’s top commuter town and on the “fast track to growth”.

Bicester also was put on the map when it was named the UK’s next Garden City by the Government. This comes with a possible £100m investment to create a more eco-friendly town of sustainable developments and includes plans for 13,000 homes, 21,500 jobs and potentially a new M40 junction near Arncott, south of junction nine.

A flurry of developments are set to follow, including the 6,000-home eco-town, 1,900 self-build homes at Graven Hill and an additional rail link to London.

The former Bicester Town station, off London Road, is being rebuilt and will reopen on October 26 as ‘Bicester Village Station’, with trains on Chiltern Railways’s new Oxford to Marylebone service stopping there.

Jack Cooper, 25, of Langford Village, who works two days a week in London, said: “I agree it is a great commuter town because of the ease of where the stations are.

“You are only 45 minutes from London or Birmingham.

“People might think the development is bad at the moment but in the long run it will be worth it.”

Average house prices in Bicester are £268,507, up seven per cent in the past year, and 25 per cent up since £215,020 in 2007, according to Rightmove.

Rents for two- and three-bedroom homes are also up by 25 per cent since 2009, says Finders Keepers.

Maxine Allington, who works at the agency’s office in Market Square, Bicester, said: “Factors driving demand for housing include the new rail links.

“The new service between Oxford, Bicester and London Marylebone will change the dynamic of the rental market and we expect Bicester to be more attractive to London and Oxford commuters.

“It is also close to Oxford and next door to Junction 9 of the M40, a key crosspoint of the north-south A34 and the London Birmingham M40.”

New estate agency, David Doyle, in Crown Walk, declares: “Bicester is set to explode on the estate agency map”.

Tingewick resident David Lovett-Hume said: “I use Bicester North as I would rather go to London Marylebone.

“Before I started commuting I did not realise how much of a commuter town it is.”

It is hoped the new 580-space Bicester park and ride site could be finished by Christmas. There will be services to Bicester Village shopping centre, the town centre and Oxford.