11:00am Thursday 13th June 2013
By Oliver Evans
THE first shops to open as part of Bicester’s £70m new town centre have been revealed.
Restaurants Prezzo and Dean’s Diner as well as major retailer Sports Direct will open on July 10.
Cherwell District Council this week revealed the brands as the first three firms set to go into the 10 new units at the £70m Pioneer Square complex. The development will also include a seven-screen Vue cinema and Sainsbury’s supermarket.
Council lead member for economic development Norman Bolster wants the development to attract more early evening patrons.
He said: “Pioneer Square will complement the economy extremely well and hopefully will generate a night-time economy.”
Italian Prezzo and 1960s-themed Dean’s Diner, which has four other branches across the south, declined to comment as they said final contracts were not yet signed.
Sports Direct has yet to comment.
Giorgio Delli, manager of Rigoletto restaurant in Bicester Road, Middleton Stoney, said: “We don’t want the competition, especially from chain restaurants.
“I’m not too concerned but they will take a few people at the beginning. Hopefully, after that, they will come back.”
Bicester & District Chamber of Commerce chairman Ben Jackson said some names “filled voids that have been commented on by residents”.
But, calling for more clothing shops, he said: “Further estate agents, coffee shops, hair and nail salons along with charity shops would not really add to the existing offer.”
The council last week said parking would be free for two hours at the 526-space Sainsbury’s multi-storey and £1.70 for the maximum three hours.
The Manorsfield Road car park will be managed by number plate recognition cameras and electronic signs to say if spaces are free.
Mr Jackson welcomed the move but said the council must now provide the same deal at its car parks.
He said: “There is a concern that, by maintaining the full pay-and-display tariff else where in the town undue pressure will result on the new provision, with queues resulting, along with confusion.”
His concerns were backed by Hayley Collier, of Bicester Beds, in Market Square, who warned of “chaos”.
She said: “I don’t think there will be queues but there will be congestion. People will think ‘if we can’t even get into the free car park we will go out of Bicester’.”
She pointed to free parking at 16 car parks run by West Oxfordshire District Council.
But deputy council leader George Reynolds said Sainsbury’s would have enough spaces to meet demand, adding: “We have always said we will see how it goes before we look at our own parking.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We are delighted that the efforts to provide free parking in the town centre have been welcomed.”
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