Plans for a wellness spa, ‘Bistro Deluxe’ and Raymond Blanc Academy at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons represent another vote of confidence in Oxfordshire’s future tourism.

Even though we know from Experience Oxfordshire (EO), the county’s previously rising visitor numbers were hammered by Covid and lockdowns, EO has been working on recovery and now we can see a determined effort to fill retail units.

Those efforts will be backed up in the longer term when some of the proposed major developments are complete.

Le Manoir’s expansion is one of four major schemes that will bring many thousands of visitors from home and abroad.

There are two remarkable motoring attractions, the ever-developing Bicester Motion and Cotswold Automotive Park. In addition, Great Wolf Lodge is currently going through the appeal system to seek permission for a huge family water park with 500-room hotel.

And that is on top of existing attractions like Oxford city centre, its history, shops and covered market.

It’s remarkable that, after what has happened in recent times, there is such optimism that the future can be bright. We can only hope the shackles are taken off business this year and don’t return.


Reports of a possible Banksy artwork appearing at Reading Gaol may have done the town a big favour.

After seven years of arguing that it is a culturally significant site and should not be a housing estate, this can only add weight to the cause as the council draws up its proposals.

The artwork has made news around the world and people are already visiting it. After recent news of a falling out among those seeking make the cultural dream come true, Reading Borough Council could not have wished for a more positive move.


Plans for a retirement village in Hook seem set for a confrontation with locals.

One objection – from Hook Parish Council – was largely focussed on a screening opinion request by RPS. The council’s complaint said the report had ‘absolutely no credibility and should be dismissed’.

It goes on to say ‘it is insulting that this statement has been thrown together with such little care and attention for its accuracy’. The complaint refers to aspects of the RPS report as ‘sloppy’, that it ‘shows incompetence’ and ‘has no authority whatsoever’.

However, its case wasn’t helped by the fact that, amid the vitriol, the council refers to RPS as JPS.

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