I grew up in Oxfordshire and it is where I now live with my family. So to be involved from the conception of such an exciting and unique project as NW Bicester is a career high for me.
In the four years since the development first started to take shape on the drawing board, we’ve had some highs and lows. As the first ground is broken this month, we are finally getting the chance to prove ourselves and the project to the community, the country and the world.
It’s exciting: we’re doing something new and ground breaking that will shape the future of housing in the UK.
It’s not simply about how people inhabit a home; it’s how they work and play too. It’s about looking at the bigger picture and creating an environmentally sustainable place where people actually put down roots and don’t just pass through.
It’s difficult to get people to understand what makes NW Bicester unique and different, which for me has made it a very different type of project.
In fact, that early engagement with the local residents has been central to the entire process: steadily educating people about what to expect – and what not to expect – and why their town will benefit. This has been a two-way process and has benefited all involved.
Sealing the purchase of the land, securing planning permission, winning Bioregional’s One Planet Living accreditation and now, starting construction, have all been key milestones over the past four years.
Another was when we discovered NW Bicester would generate so much energy we’d have to invest in upgrading parts of the local grid to cope with the power! No other developer has ever had to deal with this before in the UK.
We have always been confident that it was going to happen but the legal process has dragged it out. That’s been the cause of some low points. Involvement by a growing share of the residents has been key to getting us to where we are now. Where once online articles would be followed by critical comments, now we have knowledgeable supporters arguing our corner.
We have always believed in the scheme and we always thought it would work. It’s been about when – not if – and there’s never been a moment when we thought it would not happen.
NW Bicester is all about the bigger picture and about creating a community not just the built environment. We want it to be where people know their neighbours and talk to one another in the street. It’s the type of place where we would all like to live.
Project Director for NW Bicester at A2Dominion Housing Group