Bicester's £70m Pioneer Square town centre revamp opens

Pioneer Square shopping development
Image caption The redevelopment to the rear of Sheep Street was given the go ahead in 2009

A £70m redevelopment of an Oxfordshire town centre has opened promising to "reinvigorate" the area with the creation of 600 new jobs.

Bicester's Pioneer Square boasts a seven-screen cinema, a large supermarket and other smaller outlets.

The complex has been named in honour of the town's 23 Pioneer Regiment, which is set to be disbanded.

Lt Col David, commanding officer, said: "The naming of this new complex... is a fitting legacy [and] hugely humbling."

The redevelopment to the rear of Sheep Street and east of Manorsfield Road was initially granted planning permission in 2009.

'Invigorate town'

Cherwell District Council had to use a compulsory purchase order to push through its plans.

Councillor Norman Bolster, member for estates and the economy, admitted it had been a longer process than hoped but said it was worth the wait.

Image caption Two brick sofas have been installed as part of the regeneration project

"It will reinvigorate the town. The majority of residents have been hugely supported, they have been waiting a long time for this," he said.

Richard Mould, who lives opposite the development, said: "The finish of the project is great, it really will revitalise the centre of Bicester."

Vince Brimble, manager of the new Sainsbury's store, added: "We've employed 230 colleagues so far and well over 90% of those are recruited just from the Bicester boundary.

"I've lived here for 21 years now... Bicester has been desperate for a better mix of retailers [and] better competition."

Artworks, including two hand-carved Chesterfield brick sofas, have also been installed near the bus stops in Manorsfield Road.

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