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Bicester Motion reveals Innovation Quarter as masterplan next phase for past, present and future mobility

February 6, 2023
5 min read

Bicester Motion has revealed the next stage in its vision to become a hub of excellence for the past, present and future of mobility. Fulfilling the most forward-looking aspects of that brief is the new Bicester Motion Innovation development; a new knowledge economy area offering 230,000sq/ft to accommodate market-disrupting businesses in the mobility space.

Bicester Motion Innovation will take its lead from Bicester Motion Heritage. Founded in 2013 as a response to a changing historic motoring industry, it is now considered to be the home of historic motoring enterprise in the UK, a sector worth £18.8bn per annum. The Bicester Aerodrome Company, also sits within this area, following its launch in 2020, promoting aviation activity from the historic grass airfield.

Bicester Motion Heritage is held as an exemplar of constructive conservation by Historic England, crucially maintaining the look and feel of the nation’s best-preserved World War 2 RAF Bomber Station. In summer 2020, Bicester Motion Heritage completed construction and delivery of ‘The Command Works’ – the first significant new-build construction in 80 years at the location.

Today, this ‘marina’ of automotive businesses has grown to become a community of excellence for the classic car industry in the UK, with nearly 200 businesses benefitting from either sympathetically restored historic buildings or entirely new buildings. The site itself has become a visitor attraction, with regular ‘Scramble’ events opening up the time-warp base to 7,000 attendees for an insight into the skilled work that the on-site businesses do, with 4320 attendees aged 15 and under during 2022, sharing the magic of the motoring industry with young enthusiasts.

Bicester Motion Heritage reached full capacity this year, and is now home to 50 specialist businesses, providing some 350 jobs and apprenticeship opportunities for the local area. It continues to attract the classic car industry businesses that it was initially established to nurture, but also a number of future-facing automotive and mobility brands. The overall Bicester Motion site, which was established with Heritage, but will grow to include Experience, Innovation and Wilderness Quarters, will be developed as a home to the past, present and future of mobility in the UK.

Bicester Motion doesn’t just support these businesses but also safeguards the skills necessary to keep the classic car industry prospering. It is home to StarterMotor, the location’s partner charity, focused on promoting careers, apprenticeships and access in the historic restoring industry.

The Scramble events raised £20,691 for their charity partner StarterMotor during 2022, the largest donation to date. Around 100,000 people visit Bicester Motion Heritage each year. And, the latest four new tenants have each seen the benefit of being based at a ‘destination’ venue already with a large footfall of visitors.

The community feel of Bicester Motion Heritage has led to a number of high-profile companies recognising the benefits of being hosted at a ‘destination’ venue, among other businesses in complementary fields. Businesses outside of the classic car arena have already bought into the Bicester Motion family, EV-only brand, Polestar being a recent addition. They’re joined by a host of businesses of all sizes, from independent car restoration specialists to global automotive brands like Morgan Motor Company, The Little Car Company, Singer Vehicle Design and Motorsport UK.

Bicester Motion Innovation draws on this desire to be a part of a symbiotic community,
directly translating the successes of Bicester Motion Heritage into a new opportunity, suitable for accelerating the development of new technologies in the world of motion in all its forms.

The mobility industry is at a tipping point, with an estimated £3.7bn investment per year into automotive and mobility solutions, and a predicted £62bn in economic growth from connected and autonomous vehicles by 2030. The battery market alone in the UK is expected to be worth £9bn by 2040.

Likewise, the eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft market is forecast to reach $1tn by 2040, with businesses already making drone deliveries and targeting intercity air taxi services by 2025. Businesses located near to Bicester, such as Vertical Aerospace report pre-orders for 1,350 piloted eVTOL aircraft ($5bn) including 500 ($2bn) from one of the top three leasing companies and a pre-order option from Virgin Atlantic.

Bicester Motion Innovation will provide a space for similar future-gazing companies to thrive. There are six separate buildings with on-site test tracks and airfield, alongside a host of green spaces providing the ideal environment for testing and employee wellbeing.

It could hardly be better located as a hub, connected by two rail stations and situated just five miles from two M40 junctions, and some 90 minutes from half of the UK’s population. It also sits within ‘Motorsport Valley’, an area with the largest concentration of motorsport firms in the country, worth c.£9bn to the UK economy and employing 40,000 people.

In the future, visitors to Bicester Motion will also be able to enjoy the forthcoming Bicester Motion Experience, a further development with road routes, off-road courses and airfield access, for mobility businesses looking to showcase their products to potential customers.

Unanimous planning consent was also granted in 2018 for an up to 340-room hotel and apart-hotel, alongside restaurants and cafés, offering a new leisure destination that will be of great benefit to the local community and visitors to the area.

The final piece of the masterplan, the Bicester Motion Wilderness development, will regenerate the former quarry and lakes at the northern edge of the site through the delivery of a wilderness reserve, promoting health and wellbeing with outdoor activities. It will be delivered in two phases: on the northern lake edge is a reserve that provides a place for visitors to explore nature along a discovery trail, areas to relax and appreciate the beauty of the surroundings. The southern lakes will provide eco-lodge style accommodation for visitors, creating more overnight opportunities for Oxfordshire’s tourists, which currently number 32 million per year, spending £2.5bn and making 2.8m overnight trips.
Bicester Motion plans to become a top 20 UK visitor attraction.

Daniel Geoghegan, the Chief Executive of Bicester Motion, said: “Our vision is greater than Heritage, creating a place that doesn’t just nurture the classic car industry, but also helps build solid foundations for the future of mobility. Our 444-acre development is called Bicester Motion, because that’s what this site has always been about: motion in all its forms. What we’re creating here is a blank canvas in the centre of the UK where OEMs and mobility businesses can innovate and educate in a beautiful green space developed not just around work, but around leisure and tourism. Just as our Heritage ‘Scramble’ events attract thousands of visitors each year, we intend to turn Motion into a community, a destination and a vibrant attraction for the local community and UK visitors alike.”

Development of Bicester Motion Innovation is expected to begin in 2023, with the buildings open for occupation early 2025. This will be swiftly followed by the other masterplan projects; Experience, Wilderness and the hotel, with all complete by 2030.