Sir – For many years, the people of Oxford have been waiting for the redevelopment of the Westgate Centre. Now, at last, it seems work might actually start.

The city council’s David Edwards outlines the proposal — a massive new car park with 1,100 places, a large department shop and cinema and 72,000 square metres of new retail space. Set against all this, there will be only a token 30 new homes.

All in all, this represents a very depressing prospect. Do the city council and the developers not know that Oxford’s air pollution is unacceptable? It is designated an Air Quality Management Area because levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide are excessive.

Do they think bringing thousands of extra cars into Oxford’s centre every week will help that? Do the city council not know that there are thousands of people on the housing waiting list, and thousands more living in damp, poorly-maintained houses in the city? Do they really think that the derisory 30 new homes on offer will make more than a small dent in the problem? Don’t the city council and developers realise that if people need something from John Lewis they can order it online, at home? A massive new store is simply not needed.

The redevelopment of the Westgate area is a once-in-a-century opportunity for Oxford to have a new residential quarter.

It could mix affordable housing, housing for key workers, larger homes, small business units and small shops.

The area where development is proposed was once a busy, bustling area full of families. It could be again.

There is an urgent need to re-balance the current proposal away from shopping in favour of housing.

Chris Brewer, Headington