Since 2012 Bicester has undergone a major transformation as part of a multi-million pound regeneration project to revitalise the town centre. Known as Pioneer Square, the development has been named as a lasting tribute to Bicester’s 23 Pioneer army regiment, which was disbanded in 2014.
The town’s regeneration has been delivered in two stages. The first phase was a £70 million scheme, funded in part by Cherwell District Council, to deliver a town centre supermarket and cinema with shops and restaurants. A multi-storey car park offering two hours’ free parking was also included. The project’s construction used 85,000 bricks, more than 2,000 tonnes of steel and enough glass to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools and was completed in 2013, when the first units opened to the public at a grand opening in July the same year.
In 2015, work began on the second and final phase of the project to deliver a £6.5 million building at the end of Pioneer Square offering facilities for locals, visitors and businesses. The project known as Franklins House was led by Cherwell District Council.The site extends to one quarter of a hectare and provides a total internal space of 4,643 square metres.
The ground floor comprises a Cherwell District Council Link Point office, space for Brethertons solicitors and retail space. Upstairs on the first floor Oxfordshire County Council house its new, state of the art library which also incorporates Bicester Local History Society with the remainder of the space being set aside for office use, including additional space for Brethertons.
There is additional office space on the second floor while the third and fourth floor accommodates a 53-bedroom Travelodge Hotel.
Car parking for Franklins House was considered as part of the first phase of the regeneration project and is available in the adjacent multi-storey car park.
In September 2015 a topping out ceremony was held to celebrate the building reaching its highest peak and work on the project has now been completed.