Planning approval for Bicester eco-development
UK’s first eco-town will be built to Code level 5
Cherwell District Council in conjunction with Bicester Town and Oxfordshire County Councils have given the green light for work to commence on the UK’s first eco-town. Phase one of the north west Bicester eco-development, Exemplar, will begin shortly on a 50 acre plot, with around 40 percent of the site designated as green space to set the sustainability bar for the rest of the development.
The masterplan for the site sets out key parameters for integration with the existing town. Proposals for the initial phase put forward by lead consultants P3Eco and A2Dominion feature a range of green initiatives that will benefit current and future local communities. These include:
- 393 energy efficient, zero carbon homes for existing and new residents of Bicester, built to Code level 5
- Homes and community buildings with high levels of insulation and thermal performance
- Rainwater harvesting
- The UK’s largest residential solar array to generate electricity
- A district heating system to help ensure lower utility bills for residents
- Electric vehicle charging points
A sustainable transport system forms a key element of the masterplan, with cycle and pedestrian routes throughout as well as a bus service featuring real time information. The infrastructure has been designed to incorporate communal barbecue areas and allotments whilst enabling children to play safely in the street.
There will also be a new school and eco-business centre that will ease pressure on existing local schools and provide start-up facilities for local businesses respectively. This area will be central to the development in creating a village feel. The local business portal has already seen a high level of interest from businesses and suppliers wishing to get involved.
As part of the commitment, A2Dominion will be facilitating the development of a community-led governance structure to offer existing and new residents and businesses the opportunity to make decisions on issues that affect their immediate area. The group is committed to achieving 20 percent local labour on site and will be offering a minimum of ten apprenticeships over the next five years in conjunction with the council.
Councillor Michael Gibbard, Cherwell District Council’s lead member for planning, said: “We have made sure that the first Exemplar phase of development at NW Bicester will set the scene for what follows. The scheme will include many unique features to reduce the impact of the new development on the environment. We have put our money where our mouth is to guarantee that infrastructure is delivered along with housing rather than afterwards.”
Environment Agency planning and engagement manager for the area, Sally Coble, said: "The partnership working between the district and county council, the developers and the Environment Agency has resulted in a ground-breaking scheme. This is just the beginning. Schemes such as this show that sustainable development is possible and should be replicated across the country.”
Work on phase one begins later in the year with the remaining four stages of construction to be carried out over a five-year period. Click here to download the north west Bicester masterplan exhibition boards.