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Botley shopping centre plans divide opinion
Developers behind the proposed regeneration of Botley shopping centre have held out the prospect of new GP and dentist surgeries and accommodation for the elderly.
The first two hours of an exhibition on the scheme attracted more than 400 people on Thursday, with more expected to go along to Seacourt Hall today. Doric Properties want to demolish the 1960s West Way shopping centre and rebuild there.
A multi-screen cinema and supermarket would be the centrepieces of a new shopping and leisure complex.
The multi-million pound scheme could also see the existing Botley Library and Botley Baptist Church demolished and replaced.
But many local people at the exhibition expressed unhappiness that the scheme may result in 60 flats for the elderly at Field House in West Way also being flattened, along with the vicarage of St Peter and St Paul Church.
Visitors to the exhibition heard that Doric is considering replacing Field House but the decision would depend on the outcome of talks about the site with Sovereign Vale Housing.
Doric director Simon Hillcox said it was too early to say where any new accommodation for the elderly would be sited.
He said: “If we could incorporate the land into the scheme, we could replace it with better and more modern accommodation, which would be linked to the new piazza, new community hall and the church. “We are proposing a much more vibrant townscape. But it would make sense to keep buildings with community uses together.”
He said the idea of NHS GP and dentist surgeries had been added in response to wishes of local people.
New student accommodation is also proposed, with students likely to be forbidden from keeping cars on the site.
Doric say the development would provide between 400 and 500 long-term jobs, as well as more during construction.
While Doric hope to submit a planning application later in the year, they say no progress has been made with the owners of the pre-war shops on Elms Parade. The shops remain in the hands of the Howse family, descendants of local farmer Stephen Edward Howse, who built the parade in 1937. Because it faces out onto the main road, Elms Parade is viewed as pivotal to the whole scheme.
Visitors to the exhibition were divided in their opinion about the regeneration. John Bye, 80, of North Hinksey Lane, said: “I think it is completely unnecessary. “We don’t need a cinema here. Why do they want to demolish the vicarage, which is only 40 years old, and Field House, home to so many elderly people? People would strongly oppose the demolition of Elms Parade. It is part of the character of Botley.”
Michael Day, of Yarnells Hill, said: “It is a good idea in general. I like the concept. “There needs to be a revamp and it is great that someone is now thinking about it. But we need to keep a good mix of small shops.”
Jan Shirley, of Sweetmans Road, said: “I am worried that they want to take the whole thing down and build modern structures. “We are going to lose individual shops. Botley would lose its sense of community. “We are hearing different stories about what is going to happen to Field House.”
The exhibition will be open at Seacourt Hall, Chapel Way, Botley, today from 11am to 3pm