A striking 344-room hotel has been approved at the site of the former RAF Bicester.
The approval illustrates a remarkable turnaround for the former airfield which had once been described by Historic England as the most at risk defence estate in a report in 2008.
It was acquired by Bicester Heritage in 2013 and has become a thriving centre for businesses involved in classic and heritage vehicles.
The five-storey hotel building will sit alongside four original aircraft hangars. It will include a bar, restaurant, conference rooms, gym, swimming pool and four-storey high reception area.
Cllr David Hughes, chairman of the committee, said: “With dozens of businesses on site, Bicester Heritage already makes an important contribution to the district economy.
“This proposal means that people visiting the heritage centre will have an attractive place to stay and can spend for three or four days there if they want to rather than just making a day trip.
“The design for the hotel is sensitive to the heritage features of the wider site, while also introducing attractive contemporary elements. It will come with clear economic and social benefits to Bicester so we’re pleased to support the proposal.”
The entire 140-hectare site was designated a conservation area in 2002 but in the adopted Cherwell Local Plan designates it as ‘a strategically important tourism and employment site’.
The building was designed by British designer and car enthusiast Dexter Moren.
Bicester Heritage managing director Dan Geoghegan told the meeting the company had brought hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships to the site, adding £30 million a year to the local economy.
Councillors unanimously approved the plans.
Source: Thames Valley Property No 137 (tvproperty.co.uk)
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