THE refurbishment of Bicester’s ‘tatty’ Market Square will have three times more money spent on it than originally planned.

The news is a result of the town’s Vision board working together with Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council coming on board to boost the longstanding scheme.

The county council has set aside £500,000 boost the district council’s £250,000, which had been earmarked for some time.

Plans include making the Market Square a brighter looking and more visually attractive area.

Bicester Vision wants it to become more of a focal point of the town as it has some of the oldest and most important buildings in Bicester.

Vision chairman Bob Langton said: “Its current condition does not do it justice.”

Although Mr Langton said it was too early to say exactly what improvements would be made, the scheme could include improving the pavements – making them flatter and wider, landscaping the area adding new plants and street furniture such as benches, as well as reconfiguring the 35-space car park – without reducing the spaces.

The current two-way system in and out of the car park, could see people going in one side and out the other, and areas within the car park could be cobbled.

Mr Langton said: “There has been talk of improving the Market Square for about five years, but it has come to nothing because sufficient funds for the scheme could not be identified.

“Bicester Vision however has brought together officers and councillors from all three tiers of local government – working with the chamber of commerce and our private sector board members – to look at this problem and solve it.”

The news was announced at last Thursday’s Bicester Symposium, following a meeting at Oxford’s County Hall.

Cherwell’s member for economic development and estates, Norman Bolster, said: “Cherwell District Council has had £250,000 allocated to this project for some time, and initial ideas have been developed. The county council’s offer of additional funding, and a commitment to undertake design for the detailed scheme is very welcome. It will make it possible to undertake more extensive environmental improvement to one of the most attractive areas of the town centre.”

County Council senior transport planner Jacquie Cox said: “We are delighted to be contributing to this very worthwhile scheme for Bicester and hope it will bring great benefits for a long time to come.”

Bicester people are being warned not to expect immediate changes, as work is not planned to start until early 2010.

A working group, made up of board members of Bicester Vision, including town, district and county councillors, will be meeting again early in the new year – a date has yet to be arranged.