A REJUVENATION of Banbury's canalside area is a step closer after the purchase of a former brownfield site in Swan Close Road.

The former Antelope car dealership opposite Morrisons supermarket has been bought by Cherwell District Council for £2.15m.

It comprises a showroom, offices, a petrol station and garage and will be redeveloped as part of the council's long-term plans for the canalside, which will see areas such as Tramway industrial estate, Canal Street and Upper Windsor Street completely transformed between now and 2031.

Adrian Colwell, the council's head of strategic planning and the economy, said: "The canalside area along the Tramway industrial estate has been identified as a key site for regeneration within Cherwell District Council’s approved local plan and that includes the former Antelope site.

"The canal is a unique feature within the town and we want to capitalise upon that by making it a focal point where people congregate for business, leisure and pleasure."

The 0.9 acre Nissan Antelope site was purchased from Newcore Capital Management after it closed in September last year.

It forms part of 71 acres of land due to be developed as part of the Banbury canalside regeneration project, as laid out in the district's adopted Local Plan, which outlines key development sites in North Oxfordshire until 2031.

The plan notes: "Canalside represents a major opportunity to redevelop a substantial area close to the town centre, to secure improved access to the town’s railway station, the reintegration of the canal as a central feature of the town, and to provide new residential, commercial and retail development.

"Its redevelopment will make effective use of brownfield land and significantly reduce the need for greenfield development."

Eventually it is hoped 700 homes will be built alongside 15,000m2 of employment land for offices and businesses, as well as new footways and cycle ways.

The council also plans to build new pedestrian and cycle bridges over the Oxford Canal, the River Cherwell and railway lines.

Mr Colwell added: "The purchase of this site marks the first step towards transforming that whole area into a cosmopolitan mix of residential, commercial and retail uses which will create new homes, jobs and leisure opportunities for the town.

"This latest acquisition represents the start of an exciting future for Banbury which will feature the canal at the heart of it."

Exact plans for how the Antelope dealership be used have yet to be confirmed by the district council and it will be rented out in the short-medium term to generate income while Cherwell acquires the rest of the regeneration site.