Based at a former RAF bomber training station, Bicester Heritage – known for its historic vehicle events, restoration specialists, storage areas and aircraft facilities – has been cleared to start a round of improvements on its historic listed buildings and test track thanks to a new agreement with the local council.
This winter will see the few unrestored buildings left on site renovated – part of a wider programme to turn Bicester Heritage’s 348 acres into a national centre for aviation and motoring. In April this year, the site celebrated three years as a ‘hub of motoring excellence’.
There’s an auction house and the possibility of a hotel complex in BH’s future; currently, four rooms are available as accommodation, converted from RAF Bicester’s old pumping and power station. The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) and CBRE Hotels have released an online survey gauging levels of interest.
Bicester management recently completed a Heritage Partnership Agreement (HPA) with Cherwell District Council; it allows building consent for general and repeated works on the 40 structures found inside Bicester Heritage to go ahead without planning application.
“RAF Bicester [Bicester Heritage] is the quintessential Second World War airbase and I am delighted Cherwell is moving forward with this agreement to help conserve this magnificent piece of national history,” Cherwell District Council’s planning lead member Colin Clarke told the Oxford Mail.
BH’s business and development manager Philip White added: “The HPA provides Bicester Heritage with a valuable framework to restore and maintain its listed buildings without the need for repeated planning applications. Effectively, it encapsulates all the positives of having listed buildings and minimises any administrative burdens, enabling us to crack on with the restoration and for tenants to move in more quickly. It is a sign of the mutual trust, spirit of partnership and alignment of vision between Cherwell District Council, Historic England and ourselves.”
A cluster of motoring and aviation experts currently call Bicester Heritage home, along with apprentices from Banbury and Bicester College’s historic vehicle restoration scheme, backed by the FBHVC.