A look ahead to what 2018 has in store for Banbury
Last year served as a very interesting foundation upon which many things will be built, both literally and metaphorically, in the year that lays ahead of us.
Kicking the year off in style will be the eagerly anticipated opening of the Waitrose on Southam Road.
On Thursday, January 25, the store will officially open its doors.
Staff training had been ongoing throughout December and the new 27,500sqft shop will host thousands of food and drink products a bakery, plus cheese, meat and fish counters.
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The development was first given planning permission in 2015 and hopes were the store would open in time for Christmas 2017.
Also coming in behind schedule this year will be the Castle Quay 2 development now being funded by new owners Cherwell District Council after its audacious purchase of Castle Quay and a promise to go ahead with the cinema, hotel and restaurant development.
Tony Ilott, Cherwell’s lead member for financial management, said: “It’s a great move for Banbury.”
Not only will the town gain a Nando’s, a Lidl and a multi screen cinema as part of CQ2 but the councils ownership of Castle Quay Shopping Centre will also mean positive changes.
Cllr Ilott said: “Castle Quay 1, we’re going to upgrade it. We are not retail experts but the experts that we’ve had in say that some of the unit sizes are not what retailers are looking for.”
He added: “We have to have some construction work to bring it into line with what retailers are looking for. We will bring in a management company. We need experts to be brought in on this, we’ve already consulted with them.”
Construction on the site should begin this summer with completion scheduled for 2020.
Away from the large building projects Banbury will once again be a part of the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique after a 56 year break.
The event features classic cars that have ran in the Mote Carlo Rally and pre-date 1981 and will return to Banbury on Thursday, February 1.
The event will run from 11.30am until 1pm and will feature food stalls to ward off the cold and a display of classic cars provided by members of Oxford Motor Club, who will also steward the event.
Up to 30 classic, rally prepared cars will take part in the race, which has become the most famous road race in the world.
Cllt Kieron Mallon said: “The rally always used to have a stage in Banbury and it’s fantastic that, after 50 years, it’s back.”
Another significant Banbury development that was ratified last year and will snap into action during the coming months is the Business Improvement District or BID.
In a November ballot, businesses that would fall within the boundaries of the BID voted yes to its creation.
It was the culmination of a year-long campaign supported by the Banbury Chamber of Commerce and Cherwell District Council and will create new events within the town to help attract people here.
The focus of the Banbury BID will be better promotion of the town, events to make the town more vibrant, support for independent retailers and improving visitor experience.
The next step towards making these aims a reality is to form a BID Board which will take placec later this month.
The elected board will then liaise with all businesses within the BID and formulate plans and events.
Nick Poole, chairman of Banbury and District Chamber of Commerce, said: “The hard work starts now. It will take, from a standing start, a little while to see the results.”
Chris Gregory, director at Heartflood the town centre management advisory company thinks changes will be seen this year. He said: “ It is a standing start so what you will not see tomorrow is the town has been transformed.
“What we’ll be advising the board to do is that a number of projects are for year one.
He added: “ Nick’s right though, for a BID to become fully functioning it does take a couple of years.”
The BID events and promotional efforts will be paid for by a 1.5 percent levy on all shops that have a rateable value (RV) of over £4750. So small independent retailers who just meet the RV threshold will pay £71.25 per year.
The BID will add to existing events or create new ones. It will not take the place of other council-run events so 2018 is shaping up to be a good one for Banbury town centre, residents and traders.
Finally Banbury Town Council will once again put on a number of popular events and shows throughout the year.
On Sunday, June 10 Spiceball Park will be transformed as the Banbury and District Show returns.
The show has gone from strength to strength with last years event featuring a new attraction in the form of Banbury Art Fest.
The free event runs all day and will also feature a funfair, inflatables, various food and drink vendors, arena shows and displays, a dog show, a beer tent and lots more to keep the family entertained.
The Food Fair will return to the Market Place this year on Sunday, August 19, from 10.30am until 4.30pm.
The popular event has grown over the last few years with the 2017 event featuring celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager.
It also encompasses the Flower and Produce Show where budding horticulturists can show off their enormous vegetables or impress with delicate flower arrangements.
No announcement has been made to this year’s guest appearances but the show will definitely feature cooking demonstrations and numerous small food traders offering many culinary delights.
On Saturday, September 1 we will bid farewell to summer with the annual Old Town Summer Party and Street Organ Festival.
The festival celebrates the variety of independent traders the old town has and will feature stilt walkers, street food vendors and music.
Rounding out the year on Sunday, November 25 will be the Christmas Light Switch On.
This too has gone from strength to strength and has gained popularity with the introduction of the Christmas Market and the removal of the celebrity switch on in favour of local heroes.
To find the full list of town council events visit www.banbury.gov.uk