FAQs Back to top
Who will be able to live here? Can anyone buy a house here?
North West Bicester has been designed to provide much needed new homes, for both the people of Bicester and for those that would like to move to the town. The homes that will be available on the open market will be available for anyone to buy, whilst the 30% that will be offered as affordable homes will be allocated on a needs basis to people from the local area first and foremost. Our aspiration for the North West Bicester community is for it to become part of the rest of the town, whilst both complementing and enhancing it for all residents.
How will heat and electricity be generated on the site?
All of the electricity will be generated from solar panels, while the heat and hot water will come from a gas fired combined heat and power plant (CHP), a very low carbon source of waste heat, essentially a bi-product of the electricity that the plant generates.
There will be no solar thermal panels on the scheme and so no heat or hot water will be generated from solar panels. However, the solar panels will be connected to the grid and, as the UK’s largest domestic solar array, the site will sometimes be exporting excess electricity. Sometimes the site will be importing electricity depending on whether the sun is out and whether residents are using a lot of appliances, but over the course of a year, it will have generated all of its own electricity.
Will people pay less for their energy here?
Residents of North West Bicester will pay less for the energy they use, within normally expected levels. Appliances installed in the homes will be of the highest environmental standard available at that point in time saving energy and reducing cost, ultimately saving the average household living in North West Bicester approximately 30 per cent of their typical energy bills.
A gas powered combined heat and power plant (CHP) will supply heat to homes (see below) and the gas will be bought in bulk with the cheaper rate passed on to households.
What will the homes look like? Will they look different to other homes?
As you can see from the draft elevations that have been created for the first phase, Elmsbrook, the homes are not intended to look any different from those most of us live in. Our aspiration is very much to create a development that anyone would feel comfortable living in, whilst at the same time using materials and incorporating innovative technologies that would enable residents to live a low carbon, green lifestyle.
Will the houses have provision of parking cars?
Yes each home will have at least one parking space. However, in order to reduce the number of trips made by car, alternative, environmentally friendly options will be made easy to access. For example, real-time bus timetable information, cycle networks and a car club. All homes will have individual accessibility to electric car charge points.
Is it likely to expand from 6,000 homes?
The Masterplan process will test the optimum form of development including the total number of new homes which is expected to be up to 6,000.
How many jobs will be created?
We aim to make sure that the creation of jobs benefits the whole town by giving more opportunities to local businesses, as well as attracting cutting edge eco businesses to offer more jobs. The development will help boost a new eco economy for the town and re-position Bicester as an eco-hub.
From brick layers and builders, to caterers and gardeners, A2Dominion wants to share the benefits of the first phase of growth with local businesses first and foremost.
20% of the labour force employed in the construction of Elmsbrook will be local; local businesses and suppliers have already registered to be involved in the UK’s first eco town and to access tender and eco training opportunities.
We will be working with local schools and colleges to promote opportunities in the construction industry and recruiting apprentices that live within a 5 mile radius of the site. We are also working with Bicester Job Club to make the construction opportunities arising from the development of Elmsbrook accessible to local people and delivering training programmes to support this.
Jobs and training
Jobs and training will be created through the construction of the site but also, on completion of the first phase, jobs will be provided within the school, eco pub, hairdressers and business start-up units available in the eco business centre.
10 apprenticeships will be offered during the construction of Elmsbrook as well as support and up-skilling being offered to locally unemployed people to enable access to the opportunities provided by the construction.
The Local Business Portal promotes a ‘local first’ approach, allowing businesses based in and around Bicester to register their interest in being a part of North West Bicester and we are committed to choosing local suppliers whenever we can possibly can.
The business centre will be a hub for green enterprise and development, dedicated to eco-friendly industry, providing space for emerging new and established companies.
The design of some of the homes incorporates improved home working environments with PODs in the back gardens, loft space suitable for office conversion, and superfast broadband connection, reducing transport needs and encouraging money to be spent within the local economy.
How will the roads cope with the North West Bicester development?
One of the key targets for North West Bicester is that no more than 50% of trips taken by residents will be made by car. Currently 67.5% of trips in Bicester are made by car. The local provision of employment and community services and provision for alternative means of transport are important in supporting this.
A2Dominion has built features into the design to make alternative, greener travel by foot, public transport, bike or electric car an easy option.
Cycle stores will come as standard and the development will have marked cycleways linking directly into the town’s existing cycle network. There will be a bus stop within 400m maximum of every home. To ensure residents don’t miss the next bus, the in-home information system, known as a ‘Shimmy’, will provide a real-time timetable from the nearest stop.
Residents who don’t have a car and who need to use a car only on rare occasions will also have access to the first rural car club in the UK.
The long term nature of the project means that the introduction of more people to the local transport infrastructure will be gradual and additional transport provisions can be made at an appropriate pace with the development. It is a significant extension to the town, however, and the transport impact will be carefully planned and monitored.
What say will the people of Bicester have in the future of North West Bicester?
A key part of Elmsbrook, and the wider masterplan development has been the involvement of the local community from the beginning.
Engagement has been encouraged through a number of activities, including:
- Masterplan consultation – December 2013
- Community events
- Liaison with local schools
- Development of a community-led governance structure, offering residents and businesses the opportunity to make decisions about issues that affect their immediate area
The community organisation could directly make decisions on the management and maintenance of community facilities and have the ability to generate income to be reinvested for community purpose, as well as deliver neighbourhood activities to build community spirit.
It is envisaged that this structure could have a key role in facilitating continued community involvement with the new occupants of North West Bicester so that they feel part of the new community and are able to participate effectively in the future governance of the eco town.
A2Dominion is committed to involving local stakeholders in the development of a suitable partnership structure that enables both the existing and new community to participate effectively in the future running of the eco town.
Isn’t this simply another housing estate?
We know that bricks and mortar alone don’t make a community. That’s why, in addition to building homes we are committed to creating facilities and investing resources that enable neighbourhoods to function effectively and help new communities to flourish.
If we are to have any chance of creating vibrant new communities that offer residents quality of life and that open up new opportunities – communities that are well balanced, integrated, sustainable and well connected – then we have to think about building for the wider needs of the whole community and not just focus on building homes.
Aspects that will encourage community and differentiate North West Bicester:
- Communal herb boxes and BBQ areas
- Open streets that encourage children to play and communities to gather
- Real time information system for each house to enable access to travel timetables and local community information
- A community car club
How will the eco development benefit ordinary people living or working in Bicester?
The site was already identified for housing to meet local demand. It will be a sensitive development that considers the needs of the local community and creates a new quarter to the existing town rather than a ‘bolt-on’.
North West Bicester will create a new eco economy for the town, providing opportunities for business, employment and specialist training and skills that will not be available elsewhere. A2Dominion has a ‘local and green’ agenda to choosing suppliers and is working with Cherwell District Council, Bicester Town Council, Bicester Vision and others to maximise opportunities and benefits for the people already living and working in the town.
- On the site 30% of housing will be affordable and 40% of the site will be open spaces
- Affordable housing will be offered to people with a Bicester connection
- Work is underway within the Bicester community to support and strengthen existing voluntary and community groups and to facilitate local community projects
- Education and training opportunities will be offered to local residents in relation to the eco build of the site
- Increased public transport and cycle routes
- Improved outdoor play areas
- Encouraging eco related industries to the area to create economic and social opportunities
What is North West Bicester?
North West Bicester is a proposed, phased extension to Bicester of up to 6,000 homes, which is governed by Central Government’s Eco Town Planning Policy Statement, which is often referred to as the Eco Town PPS. The first phase of the development of 393 homes is being built by developers A2Dominion.
How did North West Bicester become an eco community?
In 2007, the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) announced a competition to build up to 10 eco-towns.
Cherwell District Council identified North West Bicester as a potential site and supported by land facilitators, P3Eco, submitted a case to the Housing Minister. This resulted in North Bicester being announced as one of the Government’s four designated eco town developments in July 2009.
A2Dominion, as the lead developer, is now developing the first phase and has undertaken numerous stakeholder and public consultations with the people of Bicester on proposals for the wider masterplan.
What is an eco town?
Eco towns are a Government-sponsored programme of new towns to be built in England, intended to achieve high standards of environmental sustainability. Their purpose is to provide much needed housing, at prices that people can afford, in a way that encourages and enables residents to live within managed environmental limits and in communities that are resilient to climate change.
Glossary Back to top
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is a way of referring to all species of animals, plants and the natural systems and habitats that support them. It’s important that we support biodiversity because it’s how the natural environment works, produces food and supports life.
True zero carbon
Through our everyday lives, we directly or indirectly make use of energy sources that burn fuels that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.
For North West Bicester, A2Dominion is committed to creating a true zero carbon community, meaning that through the choices we make on the energy sources, building materials and even the appliances in each home the development will not have any negative impact on the environment.
The approach at North West Bicester is a potentially life changing ambition on a grand scale as it is the commitment not to use any allowable solutions and includes unregulated emissions as per the original planning policies on the delivery of sustainable development, Policy Planning Statement 1 (PPS1).
Many developments demonstrate some of the eco credentials proposed at North West Bicester. None so far have demonstrated such a comprehensive set of eco credentials at such a large scale making this project true zero carbon.
Water neutrality refers to achieving development without increasing overall water use across a wider area.
North West Bicester eco‐town Masterplan covers the wider 400 hectare (1,000 acre) site, with up to 6,000 new homes and a job created for each new home. It will include several village hubs each with a primary school. It will include a secondary school, playing fields, community facilities and 40% green infrastructure.
Two outline applications, for 3,500 homes, and one detailed infrastructure submission for the Masterplan were submitted to Cherwell District Council in the Autumn of 2014 following consultation with the people of Bicester.
Both outline applications received approval in 2015 and it the detailed infrastructure application is expected to go before the planning committee in the spring of 2016.
Green infrastructure is strategically planned and managed networks of natural lands, working landscapes and other open spaces that conserve ecosystem values and functions and provide associated benefits to human populations. At North West Bicester 40% of the site will be made up of green infrastructure.
District Heating System
A District Heating System is a means for distributing heat generated in a centralised location for residential and commercial needs. It can provide higher efficiencies and better pollution control than localised boilers and is the cheapest method of cutting carbon. It has one of the lowest carbon footprints of all fossil generation plants and is the preferred method of heat generation for the North West Bicester development.
Elmsbrook / Phase one
Elmsbrook comprises 393 homes, 119 of which will be affordable. It includes a primary school and a village centre with grocery store, eco pub, cafe, eco business centre, other retail, a community hall, nursery, play areas and a substantial wildlife corridor.
This first phase of development was given planning consent by Cherwell District Council in August 2011.
Construction of the first 91 homes began in April 2014 and are expected to be completed early in 2016.
Code for sustainable homes
The Code is the national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes. The Code aims to reduce carbon emissions and create homes that are more sustainable.
The homes in North West Bicester will be designed to meet Code 5 – the second highest level of attainment.
The Eco Bicester programme, run by Cherwell District Council, comprises a suite of projects and initiatives across the existing town in addition to the new build eco town on the its north western edge e.g. the zero carbon, Pope John Paul II Community Centre and the sixth form block at Cooper School – contact Cherwell District Council.