Bicester Heritage has today unveiled ‘Bicester Motion’, its masterplan for the creation of the UK’s first automotive resort, with an ambition to become one of the country’s top 20 tourist and leisure destinations.
Having successfully developed the concept of a Centre for Excellence, experience and community for the historic automotive sector, Bicester Heritage (which occupies just 5% of the site) will now become a component of a larger landmark development named Bicester Motion. This expansion will ensure that the historic airfield location it calls home will fulfil its original and continued purpose as a focal point for cutting edge technology.
As Bicester Motion launches across 444 acres, the new resort hopes to offer leisure, culture and tourism experiences within one destination. Consisting of multiple zones, the Bicester Motion concept comprises of the recently announced 344 room hotel and conference development (which received unanimous planning approval from Cherwell District Council at the end of 2018), and an additional 770,000 feet of operational business and leisure accommodation site wide.
As a unique, holistic experience, Bicester Motion seeks to become a UK top 20 tourist attraction that offers a destination for one million tourists many of whom already visit Bicester on day trips, and a further 30+ businesses providing over 2,000 skilled jobs to the area. Embracing the location’s inherent history and existing business success, Bicester Motion will provide world class leisure facilities, employment and business opportunities at a leading automotive-focused development unlike any other.
Bicester Motion aims to be the first experiential automotive resort where visitors can become fully immersed in the breadth of our automotive culture, from existing on-site historic vehicle specialists through to future electric and autonomous technology. This planned low-density development will be dedicated to driving experience and the demonstration of high-tech engineering as well as health, wellbeing, events, accommodation and aviation.
Bicester Motion aspires to include a brand experience centre offering driver experiences on both road and off-road courses with restaurants and cafés, offering activities for the whole family. Close to the brand centre, the aim is to transform the dilapidated quarry and former industrial areas into the Bicester Reserve. This ecology-led health and wellbeing zone aspires to utilise the site’s currently inaccessible natural areas and offer access to a new country park complete with footpaths, cycle paths and lakeside lodges ideal for family breaks.
The potential construction of inimitable Motor Vaults as a community of private gallery-style garages for car storage with accommodation, will allow owners to use and maintain their vehicles in a beautifully designed and discreet location. Nestled in to the WW2 airfield’s boundary, these car storage structures will sit adjacent to the current Bomb Stores, a fitting tribute to an area also purpose built as a storage solution, but also close to the current supportive campus of over 40 industry specialists as well as test circuits.
Land abutting the Bicester ring road is earmarked for Bicester Motion’s Future Automotive Speed Technology hub, or F.A.S.T. Zone. This planned new centre of excellence will be a thriving home for automotive ‘tech’ development, demonstration and education.
Providing an introduction to the future of the automotive movement is central to Bicester Motion’s concept and where else in the UK is it possible to experience future vehicles in conjunction with our motoring history, past and present? The existing perimeter circuit, The Radial, once refurbished will offer visitors the chance to experience these vehicles in a controlled environment as well as learn skills.
Bicester Expo, an aspiring cutting-edge exhibition centre based in the former WW2 C Type Hangars will provide significant venues for conferencing, automotive events and leisure opportunities.
By partnering with both blue-chip and cutting-edge businesses, the generation of new skilled jobs and financial contribution to the local and wider economy stand to benefit the area immensely. Offering new amenities and experiences, this development hopes to ensure cohesive links to Bicester town centre, Bicester Village and the Ox-Cam ‘technology corridor’.
Dan Geoghegan, Chief Executive of Bicester Motion, commented:
“The automotive industry is in a fascinating state of flux owing to changing customer habits and requirements, alongside the technology shift in drivetrains and autonomy. Bicester Motion will enable both new and existing manufacturers to interact more effectively with their clientele. It will help build those relationships in a revolutionary way by providing an immersive environment that offers a lifestyle experience beyond just cars on tracks or visiting a showroom. The automotive world is changing, and we plan to offer a first-of-its-kind resort that will have multi-generational appeal.”
“Being around 90 minutes from 50% of the UK population makes the Bicester Motion location second to none, furthermore Oxfordshire receives 27.6 million visitors per annum. Of those, 7 million visitors head to Bicester Village a stone’s throw away, with arguably the most desirable national and international demographic to the automotive industry.”
The former RAF Bicester has a vision to become the world’s leading automotive destination for motoring past, present and future.
For historic motoring, Bicester Heritage is now the industry focus for the future alongside creating a revolution in historic vehicle ownership. The unique location is the UK’s only centre for historic motoring excellence and is the national centre for a £5.5bn per annum industry that employs over 34,000 skilled people. Founded in 2013 Bicester Heritage has gone from a standing start to a home for 40 specialist businesses, and growing, with a collective turnover of over £40m, making it the largest player in the industry and set to grow exponentially with a global reach.
The unique ecosystem of businesses based at a beautiful 444-acre former WW2 RAF Bomber Training Station acts as ‘marina-like’ cluster, promoting skills and expertise, employment, qualified customer footfall, shared business incubation and aggregate growth. Collectively, Bicester Heritage is all about driving the future of the past.
The former RAF Bicester site on which Bicester Heritage is now based is of national historic importance. Neglected for the best part of 40 years, it was added to Historic England’s ‘At Risk Register’ in 2008 and designated the most ‘at risk’ of all Defence Estates in the UK.
Since Bicester Heritage’s tenure, over 93% of the buildings have been delicately restored or re-activated for modern business use, with the site now held as a national exemplar of constructive conservation by Historic England. The time-warp base is truly unmatched in evocative character, with even the paint colours being correct to 1930s British Standards. An active airfield and test track complete its dynamic operation.
The location of Bicester Heritage of course, is key. Bicester is one of the fastest growing towns in Europe with unrivalled connections via road, rail and air, situated in close proximity to the globally known City of Oxford and within 90 minutes of upwards of 30 million people.