MORE than 800 people have responded to plans for the £100m redevelopment of West Way shopping centre in Botley, Oxford.
While some have urged developers Doric Properties to overhaul the centre, a majority of 87 per cent have objected to the proposals. Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood lent her voice in opposition to the development, urging Vale of White Horse District Council to reject the application in an eight-page letter.
Doric wants to knock down West Way shopping centre, Elms Parade shops, Field House sheltered housing and the empty Elms Court office block.
It wants to build an extended shopping and cinema complex, including a hotel and gym.
ALMOST 90 per cent of people who responded to plans to demolish and rebuild Oxford’s West Way shopping centre have objected.
Of the 827 who had their say on Doric Properties’ £100m scheme to bulldoze Elms Parade and build a six-screen Cineworld cinema, supermarket, hotel and 525 student flats, 722 people (87 per cent) said it shouldn’t go ahead.
And just 20 people (two per cent) thought the development should go ahead.
The remaining comments were either neutral, missing data, repeats or not yet processed.
Last night, co-chairman of the West Way Community Concern group, Chris Church, said they were delighted with such a “huge response”.
He said: “We hoped for 300 objections...once again local people have responded way beyond our expectations.
“The Vale of White Horse District Council needs to recognise the huge level of opposition, and the lack of any significant local support.”
Doric wants to demolish the empty shops, derelict Elms Court office block, West Way shopping centre, Botley Library, Seacourt Hall, Field House sheltered housing, the Botley Baptist Church, and the vicarage to St Peter and St Paul’s Church.
Residents have called the plans an “overdevelopment” of the site and called for it to be scaled down.
Poplar Road resident Ruth Ashwell, 55, has lived in Botley for 20 years.
The mum-of-one said: “The development is far too big and doesn’t take into account local people’s opinions, it’s an overdevelopment.
“It is creating a district centre but we need a local shopping centre.”
Doric co-director Simon Hillcox said: “We recognise that there has been an organised campaign for submitting objections, however we remain encouraged by the supportive comments we do receive through other means such as on our Facebook page and in the comments section of the Oxford Mail.
“Now that the consultation period is coming to a close, we will be considering the feedback received by the council in detail before deciding how to respond. Encouragingly, all the responses from statutory consultees received to date raise no objections to the application.”
MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Nicola Blackwood opposed the plans in an eight-page letter to the Vale.
She wrote: “This is clearly a popular and well-loved part of Botley, which residents regard as a central hub of the local community. It has also been apparent in recent years that some of the existing West Way buildings are a little tired and in need of repair, so like many residents I would agree it would benefit from new investment.
“However any development must work with and for the residents of Botley and I believe that this proposal as submitted does not achieve that.”
SOME OF THE COMMENTS
Darren Smith, who lives by the Southern Bypass: “The West Way Centre is in dire need of redevelopment and Doric’s plans are exactly what the area needs.”
Poplar Road resident James Hodgkins: “I am glad that these plans are finally in place to turn Botley into the best part of Oxford to live.”
Lime Road resident Lisa Probert: “We do not need what is effectively an out-of-town shopping and leisure complex in such a residential area.”
Hids Copse Road resident Harriet Bretherton: “There is no way that the existing roads will be able to cope with the envisaged increase in traffic – 30,000 movements.”