Property Regeneration

Plans for hotel, market and bar to go ahead

By Sarah Edwards at

Plans to open a hotel, covered market and bar at the former RAF Upper Heyford have been given the go-ahead.

Cherwell District Council’s planning committee approved permission for a development which will involve the partial demolition, refurbishment and extension of two existing buildings.

The base was designated a conservation area in 2006, largely as a result of its preservation as a Cold War military airfield. With yesterday’s decision, building 455 has been approved for use as a hotel, and building 457 for use as a bar or brasserie. In between them will be a new lightweight canopy allowing for the establishment of the covered market.

Cllr Colin Clarke, Cherwell’s lead member for planning, said: “These buildings date from 1925 and are representative of the British military style. The proposals approved yesterday will bring them back into use in a way that enhances the area while preserving the former base’s heritage.
“Through their work with the developer, council officers have helped establish a layout and architectural style that will reflect the military history of the base, reinforcing the heritage value of the settlement.

“At the same time, the proposals contain exciting design elements such as the glazed canopied link joining the two buildings, which will provide a large, multi-purpose area for markets and other gatherings.”

Wider permissions for the development of the site were granted on appeal in 2010. Since then the site has changed hands and the current owners have modified the approved plans.

Dorchester Living, the developer behind the regeneration of the former Upper Heyford airbase, has confirmed that it will begin work on the new village centre at the beginning of next year, with the construction process estimated to take just over 12 months to complete.

Focusing on a service-based lifestyle of the residents and those who live in North Oxfordshire, the new village centre will be like no other in the country – pushing the boundaries of design and the types of services on offer.

The village centre scheme is being designed by award-winning architects Jestico + Whiles. The practice has proven expertise in delivering excellent and sustainable designs within major urban regeneration schemes involving the refurbishment of historic buildings, including Spitalfields and Borough Market in London.

Providing a unique experience, the new village centre is to offer a range of aspirational services and facilities including a family friendly American style brasserie, boutique hotel, delicatessen and market hall, café and brunch bar, two terraces, external seating, co-working spaces, play areas and a landscaped area.

Paul Silver, CEO of Dorchester Living, said: “This is an important milestone in the regeneration of Upper Heyford and our vision to create an exciting sustainable hub for enterprise, culture and living.

“We are reimaging how a village should look and feel, and by pushing the boundaries of the buildings purpose, design and materials, we are creating great community spaces that people can be proud of and inspired to use. We want these buildings and spaces to stand the test of time and that was integral to our planning.

“The new south side of the village centre will also create approximately 40 new jobs and provide other socio-economic improvements both now and in the future.”

James Dilley, Head of Hospitality, Jestico + Whiles, added: “We are thrilled to be working with Dorchester Living on this unique project. We honestly believe that there is currently no other comparable development in the UK in terms of the features and designs this scheme will deliver.

“Above all, our proposal for the village centre of Heyford Park is about place making, in part through reference to the rich context of this beautiful part of Oxfordshire and the layers of history on this site, not least the refurbishments of the heritage buildings of the former USAF base.

“It has been a great opportunity for us to draw on our expertise in the design of highly successful restaurants and hotels along with our rare skills in regenerating historic markets as highly successful retail and leisure opportunities.’’

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