BUSINESSES and residents in West Oxford are counting the cost as the BP petrol station at Seacourt shuts for good, leaving drivers with a long and pricey detour to fill up.

The garage at Seacourt Tower Retail Park in Botley will officially close today after serving the community since the late 1980s.

It is set to be replaced with a Costa Coffee drive-thru and 395-space car park, part of the second phase of the complete redevelopment of the retail park.

Staff at the garage were already turning customers away when the Oxford Mail visited yesterday, with all the pumps at the filling station shut off and the shop gutted.

Drivers are now facing either a four-mile trip on the A34 to the Peartree Interchange or the same distance to Sainsbury’s at Heyford Hill.

Vale of White Horse Councillor for Botley Debby Hallett said that she was concerned the many car-dealers and car-hire agencies in Botley may consider leaving the area following the closure.

Nathan Sutton, who works for Hertz car rental based near the garage on Osney Mead, said the company was already feeling the effects.

He said: “We used it pretty much every hour. We fuelled our cars there so it closing is an inconvenience.”

“It makes it a half an hour journey to fuel up. It’s about a 10-mile journey but it’s more the time because we have got to have a driver to get there – it’s a massive inconvenience.

"We often go to Sainsbury’s (in Kidlington). But it’s really difficult to direct customers there.”

Ms Hallet is also calling for petrol stations to be given increased protection, similar to the listings which have recently been introduced for pubs and other community assets.

She said: "The closure of the petrol station is a business decision taken by the owners and not the call of any local council and we have to respect the business owners' decision to shut it down.

"I think that in these days of increased environmental awareness and concerns, the closure of a petrol station and then resulting miles people now have to drive for a fill up should be a local council concern.

"I think they're at least as important as local pubs, which are somewhat protected.

"It would be a government decision to make petrol stations a protected community asset though, and I can't see that happening."

The new Costa will occupy the far north-eastern corner of the site, nearest the A420.

The rest of the land, including where the petrol station now stands, will become a car park to serve the rest of the retail park which features shops Decathlon, Dreams and Sports Direct.

A Marks and Spencer food hall is expected to fill the current vacant units at the site, if a planning application is approved.

Following the closure, the petrol station will be decommissioned by the end of the week but it is still not known when work will begin on the new Costa store.

The site is owned by the British Airways Pension Trust Limited who did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

Raleigh Park Road resident Barbara Bolder, 69, was shopping at the West Way centre and said that she was concerned the loss of the petrol station would heap further problems on the much-delayed project to rebuild the 1960s shopping centre.

She said: "Lots of people from the nearby villages used the petrol station and would often stop at these shops on their way.

"Why would they stop now? We're losing all our local facilities.

"We have essentially been abandoned and left with nothing.

"There's lots of new houses being built around here. So we have many more cars but no petrol stations."

Michael Howard, the general manager garage, refused to be drawn on whether he felt that closure was the right thing to do.

He said: "We have received a lot of messages from customers over the last month.

"It has been wonderful working with the team."