Planning policy standards

The development standards that are being used in delivery of 'Eco Bicester - One Shared Vision' were based the government's eco-town Planning Policy Statement (.pdf format, 288Kb), which is divided into several sections:

Zero carbon

The definition of zero carbon set out in the Eco towns Planning Policy Statement (PPS) is that over a year the net carbon dioxide emissions from all energy use within the buildings are zero or below.

Proposals for the development of North West Bicester should demonstrate how this will be achieved taking into account the health and social care needs of residents, and the resulting energy demand. Other large developments will also be expected to meet the zero carbon requirement.

The definition excludes embodied carbon and emissions from transport, but includes all buildings: not just houses but also commercial and public sector buildings which are built as part of Eco Bicester.

The calculation of net emissions will take account of locally produced energy; the production of energy imported from centralised energy networks; and emissions displaced by exports of locally produced energy to centralised energy networks where that energy is produced from a plant (1) whose primary purpose is to support the needs of the Eco Bicester and (2) has a production capacity reasonably related to the overall energy requirement of the Eco Bicester.

Climate change adaptation

North West Bicester is to be a sustainable community that is resilient and well-adapted to future climate change. It should be planned to minimise future vulnerability in a changing climate, with both mitigation and adaptation in mind. All new developments should be designed to take account of the climate they are likely to experience.

New development is to deliver a high quality local environment and meet the standards on water, flooding, green infrastructure and biodiversity set out in this Vision, taking into account a changing climate for these, as well incorporating wider best practice on tackling overheating and impacts of a changing climate for the natural and built environment.


As well as being zero carbon, proposals for new homes should:

  • Achieve high standards of sustainability, for example, Building for Life Silver Standard and Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes as a minimum (or any higher standards in the development plan)
  • Meet lifetime homes standards and space standards
  • Have real time energy monitoring systems; real time public transport information and high speed broadband access, including next generation broadband where possible. Consideration should also be given to the potential use of digital access to support assisted living and smart energy management systems
  • demonstrate high levels of energy efficiency in the fabric of the building, having regard to proposals for standards to be incorporated into changes to the Building Regulations between now and 2016 (including the consultation on planned changes for 2010 issued in June 2009 and future announcements on the definition of zero carbon homes)]
  • achieve, through a combination of energy efficiency and low and zero carbon energy generation, carbon reductions (from space heating, ventilation, hot water and fixed lighting).


It is important to make sure that North West Bicester is a genuine mixed-use community and that unsustainable commuter trips are kept to a minimum. A similar approach will be sought for all suitable development sites.

Facilities to support job creation on the site and in the town should be available and as a minimum there should be access to one new employment opportunity per new dwelling that is easily reached by walking, cycling and/or public transport.


Travel should support people’s desire for mobility whilst achieving the goal of low carbon living. Options such as walking, cycling, public transport and other sustainable options should be prioritised, thereby reducing residents' reliance on private cars, including techniques such as filtered permeability.

To achieve this, homes should be within ten minutes’ walk of frequent public transport and neighbourhood services. The principle of co-location is supported to encourage the efficient use of the sustainable transport options available and reduce the need for individuals to travel by private car. The following criteria should be considered in terms of travel planning:

  • How the town’s growth will enable at least 50 per cent of trips originating in North West Bicester or on any other large mixed use development, to be made by non car means, with the potential for this to increase over time to at least 60 per cent
  • Good design principles, drawing from Manual for Streets, Building for Life, and community travel planning principles
  • How transport choice messages, infrastructure and services will be provided from ‘day one’ of residential occupation
  • How the carbon impact of transport in the eco-town will be monitored, as part of embedding a long term low-carbon approach to travel within plans for community governance.
  • Options for ensuring that key connections around Bicester do not become congested as a result of the development, for example by extending some aspects of the travel plan beyond the immediate boundaries of the site
  • Ultra low carbon vehicle options, including electric car schemes should be considered to help achieve a sustainable transport system.
  • Bicester should grow in a way that supports children walking or cycling to school safely and easily. A maximum walking distance of 800m from home to the nearest school for primary school aged children will be sought.

Healthy lifestyles

Bicester shall be designed to support healthy and sustainable environments and enable residents to make healthy choices easily.

Local services

A good level of provision of services within new development in Bicester proportionate to the size of the development and to complement those in the town will be sought. This should include leisure, health and social care, education, retail, arts and culture, library services, sport and play facilities and community and voluntary sector facilities.

Community and governance

A long term approach to governance at North West Bicester is necessary to ensure that the new development retains its integrity as an eco development and is able to manage change in a planned way. It will be important that alongside proposals for the physical development of the site, there are appropriate governance structures in place to ensure that the eco town standards are met, maintained and can evolve to meet the needs of future residents and businesses.

Of particular importance will be to ensure there is continued community involvement and engagement with the new occupants, so that they feel part of the new community and to help them be able to participate effectively in the future governance of the eco town.

A new community governance structure at NW Bicester, such as the establishment of a local management organisation, could allow local people to directly make decisions on the management and maintenance of community assets, such as the green spaces on the site and the community hall, as well as having the ability to generate income to be reinvested for community purposes.

Such proposals will need to be appropriate to the scale and complexity of the eco town development and should complement the existing role of the local authorities and Bicester Town Council. It is envisaged that such an approach, if successful in NW Bicester, has the potential to be rolled out to wider Bicester and could positively impact on community cohesion and quality of life for the whole town.

Green infrastructure

40 percent of the total area of land at North West Bicester is to be allocated to green space, of which at least half should be public. For other developments the Local Development Framework (LDF) will identify the standards of provision required.

A network of well managed, high quality green/open spaces which are linked to the wider countryside should be provided, including a range of types of green space, for example community forests, wetland areas and public parks. Green space should be multifunctional: accessible for play and recreation, walking or cycling safely, and supporting wildlife, urban cooling and flood management.

Particular attention should be given to land to allow the local production of food from community, allotment and/or commercial gardens.

Landscape and historic environment

Development should complement and enhance the existing landscape character. Proposals should set out measures to conserve and, where appropriate, enhance heritage both assets and their settings.


North West Bicester will need to demonstrate a net gain in local biodiversity. All new development should seek to achieve this. A strategy for preserving and enhancing local biodiversity is required to accompany any planning applications. This will need to be based on up to date information about the biodiversity of the area including proposals for the management of local eco systems and where appropriate, the restoration of degraded habitats or the creation of replacement habitats.

It should set out priority actions in line with the England Biodiversity Strategy and local biodiversity action plans, including appropriate mitigation and/or mitigation measures, required to minimise adverse effects on individual species and habitats of principle importance and to enhance local biodiversity overall.

Developers should seek the advice of Natural England and other relevant statutory advisers when developing their strategies. Delivery bodies should be identified in the strategy and its implementation should proceed in parallel with the development.


Bicester should be ambitious in terms of water efficiency, particularly as it is in an area of water stress. North West Bicester and other large development should:

  • incorporate measures in the water cycle strategy for improving water quality and managing surface water, groundwater and local watercourses to prevent surface water flooding from those sources
  • incorporate sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) and, except where this is not feasible, as identified within a relevant Surface Water Management Plan, avoid connection of surface water run-off into sewers.
  • develop a strategy for the long term maintenance, management and adoption of the SUDS. Eco-Bicester should aspire to water neutrality, i.e. achieving development without increasing overall water use across a wider area.

In particular, the water cycle strategy should set out how:

  • development would be designed and delivered to limit the impact of the new development on water use, and any plans for additional measures, e.g. within the existing building stock of the wider designated area, that would contribute towards water neutrality
  • new homes will be equipped to meet the water consumption requirement of Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes
  • new non-domestic buildings will be equipped to meet similar high standards of water efficiency with respect to their domestic water use.

Flood risk management

Development should not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere, and should use opportunities to address and reduce existing flooding problems.

At North West Bicester all of the built-up areas (including housing, other public buildings and infrastructure) will be fully within Flood Zone 1 - the lowest risk. Flood Zone 2 (medium risk) should, as far as possible, be used for open spaces and informal recreational areas that can serve as multi-functional spaces, for example, those used for flood storage.

There should be no built-up development in Flood Zone 3, with the exception of water-compatible development and, where absolutely necessary, essential infrastructure as defined in Table D.2 of PPS25: Development and Flood Risk (.pdf format, 580Kb).