Gateway Park is set to open to the public as part of a wider road and access improvement programme starting at the pioneering Graven Hill development.
Work is due to begin in on the new-look entrance from the A41 into the site. As well as providing landscaped parkland and footpaths, the adjacent 4.6-acre Gateway Park will also prominently feature the relocated* Pioneer Memorial from the former Graven Hill Barracks, which was home to the Royal Pioneer Corps.
The Memorial was originally built and unveiled by the Colonel Commandant of the Royal Pioneer Corps, Gen Sir John Cowley at Simpson Barracks, Northampton (previous ‘Home of the Royal Pioneer Corps’ HQ) in 1964. The Memorial was relocated to the Bicester St Davids Barracks in 1993, from where the 23rd Regiment would regularly train and deploy on exercises and operations. An estimated 3,600 Pioneers served in Bicester over the decades, until the Regiment and its Reserves (158 Pioneer Regiment) were disbanded on October 14, 2014.
The MoD site, surrounding St David’s Barracks, were then included in Cherwell District’s Council redevelopment masterplan as part of the Graven Hill development which broke ground in 2018 and is now home to almost 500 families and growing.
The original bricks that make up the 3m high memorial will carefully be dismantled and transported to the Gateway Park which overlooks the new Graven Hill entrance, featuring a new identical blue remembrance plaque recreated to honour the Pioneer heroes.
As part of the road and access improvements, Orchard Lane, which loops to the west of the development, is to be permanently closed to allow completion of landscaping works. The bottle and recycling banks will be relocating to nearby Anniversary Avenue East where there is improved road and footpath lighting and vehicular access via the mini roundabout on Graven Hill Road.
Graven Hill Managing Director Adrian Unitt said: “We are delighted to be able to open Gateway Park to the public which has been eagerly anticipated by local residents. The Park will offer 4.6-acres of open space, landscaped parkland, a lake with islands for wildlife and footpaths for everyone to enjoy. It is another huge boost to the popularity of the Graven Hill development and will undoubtedly appeal to anyone who is looking to move to, or relocate within, Bicester.
He added: “The fact we are able to incorporate the Pioneer Memorial into the Park was something that was very important to the team and we’re delighted even more people will be able to see and recognise the huge contribution that Pioneer regiment made to our country and the local Bicester community.”
The works, due to start w/c November 27th, are expected to complete early in the New Year with no access impact to Graven Hill residents or visitors.