New sustainable Bicester business community with David Lloyd health, fitness and racquets club approved by Cherwell District Council
Catalyst will provide a new style of development for Bicester in response to demand from technology, advanced manufacturing and high-performance engineering companies and create up to 1,750 new jobs, while helping to reduce out-commuting from the town, in accordance with the aspirations of the Cherwell Local Plan.
The site was allocated for knowledge and technology uses in Cherwell District Council’s adopted plan. The proposals approved are for a range of stand-alone hybrid technology buildings totalling 290,000 sq ft (27,000 sq m) alongside a new health and racquets club, within 25 acres of landscaped grounds and the development will include an ecological wetland reserve. The plans included the closure of Wendlebury Poultry Farm and construction is planned to start later this year with the first buildings due to be available from mid 2021.
Located to Bicester’s south, just off the A41 adjacent to the Bicester Avenue retail centre and the new Holiday Inn 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, rail stations 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. Individual buildings are likely to be in the range from 9,000 sq ft to 30,000 sq ft (835 sq m to 2,787 sq m). However, larger occupier building requirements for 100,000 sq ft (9,290 sq m) plus, 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: “This news is great for Bicester and the community as we will be creating a mixed business community for technology focused businesses, both local to Bicester and those seeking to be in the area within The Oxford-Cambridge Arc.
“This will be our fourth major project in the town, and we are excited to see this new employment space alongside the new David Lloyd Club that will benefit residents and the future economy.
“Bicester has a strong workforce, is brilliantly connected and offers companies significant combined rent and business rates savings compared to similar south-east buildings. Catalyst Bicester will be a new community with well-designed buildings so companies and people can thrive in the town.”
Bruce Gardner, new openings director, David Lloyd Leisure added: “Bicester is a booming area and so this new club will be a welcome addition to our growing portfolio of 100 clubs in the UK . We hope to start work early next year, with a view to completing it in 2022, and once open it will offer the local community a range of premium family-friendly health, wellness and racquets facilities and a warm and friendly club environment.”
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.