Oxfordshire: Catalyst Bicester development to create 1750 jobs

Plans for a new sustainable business community including a David Lloyd Club in Bicester have been submitted by Albion Land. Catalyst Bicester will provide new workspace in response to demand from technology, advanced manufacturing & high-performance engineering companies and create up to 1,750 new jobs.

The site is allocated for knowledge and technology uses in Cherwell District Council’s adopted plan. The proposals are for B1 uses in a range of stand-alone hybrid technology buildings totalling 290,000 sq ft alongside a new health and racquets club, within 25 acres of landscaped grounds that will also include an ecological wetland reserve. If approved, the plans include the closure and removal of Wendlebury Poultry Farm.

Located to Bicester’s south, off the A41 adjacent to Bicester Avenue retail centre on its south side and under two miles from J9 M40, Catalyst Bicester will be a fast-growing, sustainable location due to its proximity to housing, transport links and infrastructure, vibrant and diverse economy, leisure, and shopping.

The health club will be operated by Europe’s leading fitness and racquets provider, David Lloyd Leisure, and will include a state-of-the-art gym, the latest group exercise classes, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, alongside its renowned racquets courts.

Occupiers of Catalyst Bicester will be able to use the new adjacent Holiday Inn Express for overnight accommodation plus meeting rooms, conference facilities and dining. Catalyst Bicester will have walking and cycling connectivity to the nearby retail parks and town centre. It will support the need to reduce the number of residents travelling outside the district for work while being entirely accessible to visitors.

Catalyst Bicester will include sensitive tree planting, soft landscaping and an ecological wetland area, complete with seating areas for quiet reflection, outdoor meetings, walking or running. Once complete, the ecological wetland area will be transferred to and managed by Banbury Ornithological Society which has been part of the planning process.

In response to the rapidly expanding knowledge and technology sector, buildings will typically be two-storey in scale to include offices, laboratories, R&D, high-tech and manufacturing space. At this stage, it is anticipated that individual buildings will range from 10,000 sq ft to 30,000 sq ft. However, larger occupier building requirements for circa 100,000 sq ft could be accommodated.

The new buildings will incorporate sustainable construction techniques and be rated by the globally recognised sustainability assessment method to be BREEAM “Very Good”.

Simon Parsons, director, Albion Land said: “These plans are game-changing for Bicester creating a mixed business community within The Oxford-Cambridge Arc. We have worked with existing high-tech businesses in the area to understand their needs. The proposals have been designed to ensure we accommodate both current Bicester occupiers and new knowledge-based companies to the area to provide a place to grow. The proposals accord with the Cherwell Local Plan and Catalyst Bicester will be the first development of its kind in the town.

“We are committed to continuing our investment in Bicester, in what we will be our fourth major project in the town, through responsible and sustainable development. We are supporting Cherwell District Council’s vision for this land by providing exceptional employment space for the knowledge economy, set in a high-quality business community alongside the new David Lloyd Club that will benefit residents and future economy.

“Bicester offers a strong, well-connected location, a ready-made workforce and significant combined rent and business rates savings compared to similar south east buildings. We will provide a desirable environment and well-designed buildings so exciting and new companies can thrive within The Arc.”

Bruce Gardner, new openings director, David Lloyd Leisure added: “Bicester is undergoing a boom in its development and so makes a very attractive location for us to open our 101th club in the UK. We hope that the new club, with its premium family friendly facilities will prove to be a welcome addition to this vibrant region.”

The submission of the plans follows the recent news that construction is to start in September at Albion Land’s Axis J9 project off Howes Lane which will be a new distribution and manufacturing park in Bicester to provide space for between 900 and 1,200 jobs.

Cornish Architects is the masterplanner and architect, Quod is the planning consultancy, David Tucker Associates is the transport consultancy, Tyler Grange is the biodiversity and arboriculture consultancy, re-form is the landscape consultancy, KAM is the project management company and Bailey Johnson Hayes is providing engineering consultancy.