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Breakthrough on Seacourt redevelopment at Botley
A scheme to transform West Oxford’s Seacourt Retail Park into a multi-million shopping destination has been unveiled after years of delays.
Developers are hoping a revised £15m plan to redevelop the dilapidated 1980s shopping centre will create 150 new jobs.
If approved, work could start on the two-phase scheme this year, with part of it opened by next summer.
The site would feature 10 new shops, a total floor space of 13,522sq m – an increase on the current 8,000 sq m – and a redeveloped junction coming off the slip road from the Botley interchange.
But it would mean the loss of one of the area’s only petrol stations.
Joint director of developer TDH Estates, Eric Hall, said: “This new development will give this part of Oxford a big lift.
“We want to bring in fashion, footwear and sportswear retailers.
“The petrol station will be removed as you don’t usually have them on non-food retail parks, and a new inbound lane will be created from the slip road near the existing exit lane.”
Mr Hall said the firm was in negotiations with a number of well-known national chains but added it was too early to name them.
Permission was given to create a new exit to link the retail park to the A420 in 2007, but the change never went ahead.
Another application was approved in 2011, but work was delayed due to two sticking points.
One was solved when Thames Water gave the go-ahead for a £7m drainage scheme in Botley and Cumnor Hill to address local flooding concerns.
But work could still not start because the applicants were unable to renegotiate the lease on the existing Seacourt Homebase store.
The revised plan solves this by working around Homebase in two phases. The first phase would see the building which used to house Habitat and Allied Carpets transformed into four new retail outlets, to open by autumn 2014.
The second part of the scheme would begin in 2015, with the whole project completed in time for Christmas 2016.
Phase two will create six smaller stores to replace Homebase when its lease expires.
If approved it would be the latest boost for retail in West Oxford.
West Way developer Doric Properties is planning to demolish existing shops and create a multi-screen cinema, new supermarket, community hall and student accommodation.
And Waitrose has expressed interest in taking over the Halfords site in Botley Road.
Eric Batts, Vale of White Horse district councillor for North Hinksey and Wytham, said: “The most important thing is it will bring jobs to the area if we get some big retailers.”
Matt Stanbury runs Class EcoDesign, a furniture business currently using the empty Allied Carpets premises rent-free as a warehouse.
He said: “I will be watching what happens with interest, both here and across the road with the West Way development.”
Alice Blakeworth, 46, of Lime Road in Botley, said: “It looks very tired and a bit depressing at the moment.
“If we can get some new shops in, it will give the area a new lease of life.”
A planning application submitted to Vale of White Horse District Council is due to be decided in May.