Peter Cox (PC), Martin Patchett (MP), Ben Jackson (BJ), Tony Douglas (TD), Gail Church (GC)
Councillor Lynn Pratt (LP), Councillor Colin Clarke (CC)
Chair – Jenny Barker (JB), Scott Barnes (SB), Maria Curran (MC), Julia Aratoon (JA)
Item 2 only: Natasha Barnes (NB)
Apologies: Councillor Barry Wood, Paul Jobling, Steven Newman
Minutes: Liza Ellis
|1.||Minutes of previous meeting/matters arising – 06.12.16
JB introduced Scott Barnes, Director of Strategy and Commissioning, and explained the interim structure following Karen Curtin’s departure.
PC introduced Gail Church as the new BCoC member representing the Town Centre.
PC asked for an update on the Local Plan process.
Approval of a ‘Proposed Submission Document’ for the partial review of the adopted Cherwell Local Plan was given by the Executive at the 19 June meeting. The Document contained proposals for residential development to assist Oxford City Council in meeting its unmet housing needs. This affects Kidlington more than the other towns.
The Local Plan part 2 ‘Proposed Submission’ Document is scheduled to be considered at a future Executive meeting.
Bicester Retailers Group
JA updated on the outcomes of the workshops including the quick wins actions. This plan has been reviewed and updated and will go to a task and finish group to finalise. The group has discussed s106 funding for footfall driver events and maintains close communications with Bicester Town Council in order to share news of events. Economic Development staff will continue monitoring and linking to areas of work within the Council and other towns as appropriate.
London Road/ East West Rail
JB updated that the options report for the London Road Level Crossing is now on the Oxfordshire County Council website. The next steps are to understand the impacts and find solutions.
PC advised the East West Rail public consultation takes place on 10th July.
• Parking Update
NB updated on the progress of the parking services review as follows:
A company has been appointed to operate and manage the parking service including replacing old equipment. The new machines will accept direct debit, credit card and cash (chip & pin and contactless) with an on-line service similar to Ring-go. The ability to pay retrospectively will be offered where possible, but will not be available for all car parks.
Phase 1 in progress; establishing the new company and machines during August with the plan to go live in the Autumn.
Action: The detailed update report to be sent out with the minutes.
Enforcement agents are to be kept at similar numbers. ANPR will be in place but enforcement will not be automated, therefore notices will be checked before issue.
Technology and accessibility is going to be improved long term to make it easier for everyone to use the car parks. Promotions can still run.
TD asked if a period of free parking can be agreed for example; first 30 minutes free, to encourage people to come into the town centre to shop. It is difficult to compete with out of town retail parks offering free parking.
NB advised we need income generated to provide the service and we will still offer promotions. We will have more data and information to make a real net difference in future; to make decisions on free periods and other promotions taking into account the effect on businesses.
A discussion was held on revenue and how it is split over Bicester, Kidlington and Banbury.
JB agreed it will be sensible to review when the information is available from the new operator on revenue income and usage.
See Improvements on CDC Parking services brief notes here.
Action: Log as forward item for April 2018 meeting.
· Town Centre Wi-Fi
JA updated as follows; a Bicester Wi-Fi installation is being developed around the concessionary model being procured by Oxford City Council. The ‘intention to award’ letter is expected to be signed imminently by Oxford, which will allow CDC to negotiate contractual terms with the prospective operator prior to approval by the CDC Procurement Steering Group. We will also need to meet with Oxfordshire County Council to discuss street furniture and negotiate any lease arrangements with the focus on multi-use for new furniture and installations.
Indicative timescales are as follows providing there are no issues outside our control:
A discussion was held on the need for free Wi-Fi and the value of reviewing need and options prior to progressing to contractual commitment.
Action: SN to review need and options prior to progressing to contractual commitment.
CDJA distributed the Strategic Sites Guide.
|3.||CDC Bicester Update
MC advised that the master plan consultation is scheduled to start in early July with an amended 2nd draft being produced. The consultation event will run over a couple of days. In September the CDC Executive will be asked to approve a formal statuary consultation.
The feasibility study into a new M40 junction is moving to stage 2 – appraising options. Additional traffic surveys have been undertaken as part of the study. If the case for a new junction is demonstrated then a discussion with the Department for Transport/Highways England would be required to secure delivery as part of a future delivery and funding programme.
The Investment prospectus is going out to tender with the intention to be ready by September to attract new employers and residents to Bicester.
A new residents’ survey is planned to pick up information about new residents in the town, and how we develop the town to attract people to shop and socialise in the town centre. The results will be out in July.
A project is underway to hold Film Fridays, showing classic summer films outside in August.
· Healthy New Town
JB updated on plans for wildflower planting at Bure Park and the background to the HNT initiative program. There are 3 main focus areas;
1) new care models
2) built environment
3) community engagement and activation
There is a lot of activity around pedestrian ‘health routes’ being installed in the near future. A group is working on air quality monitoring to establish the effect of increased numbers of cars and to promote walking and cycling instead of using cars for short journeys. We are encouraging the use of electric cars and bicycles.
TP queried the cost of the Bure Park signage.
JB advised we received WREN funding for the signage and the repair of the bridges. The town centre signage is due to go in week commencing 3 July 17.
· Economic Growth
JA distributed the “make your business flourish” newsletter and advised on help for new businesses to apply for various grant funding.
Action: BCoC to share with new businesses.
The next round of job fairs will be in the Autumn and the format of these is being looked at and tailored to meeting specific business needs.
Cherwell Business Awards are now run as a limited company, and produced a much more professional awards evening on the 5th of May at the Heythrop Park, Enstone. There were some Bicester finalists and winners. CDC will remain the headline sponsor for 2018.
PC updated on his work with Bicester Vision to give a tour of Bicester to Oxford University representatives looking for technical sites.
MP queried the high rentals for town centre units, which is leading businesses to move to out of town parks. There is a big impact on footfall in the town centre when there are a lot of empty units. However, some of the empty units are waiting for leases to be confirmed.
JB advised that the approach is to support independent retailers and encourage people to come into the town centre, whilst encouraging businesses into empty units to drive a vibrant feel and footfall increase.
MP agreed the night time economy is developing quickly.
JB explained that the planning policy team needs evidence to support the provision of smaller units and is finding this difficult to obtain.
MP advised developers only want to deliver larger units.
A discussion was held on the frequency of meetings and whether they should be quarterly or six monthly. All agreed to be four monthly.
Action: LE to set up next meeting for October 17.