THE first detailed images of what the new £400m Westgate development will look like when built can be revealed today.

A vision drawn up by the Westgate Alliance illustrates for the first time the transformation that the group is aiming to achieve in the city.

And the body has been using the artist’s impression in Cannes as it aims to lure some of the world’s leading retailers to Oxford.

Now, having secured an agreement with leading department store John Lewis, the Westgate Alliance has begun the process of recruiting top international brands and retailers to occupy the new development.

Sara Fuge, development manager for the Westgate Alliance, said her team had been at the major international retail conference MAPIC in the south of France in a drive to bring more big names on board.

And household names such as Abercrombie and Fitch, Benetton, Adidas and Marks and Spencer all attended this year’s event.

She said: “Whilst it is fantastic that we have secured John Lewis for the new Westgate, it is vital that we commence work to secure other national and international retailers over the next 18 months, beginning at MAPIC.”

“Oxford is an internationally renowned and iconic city and we expect considerable interest.

“The final appearance of the buildings will follow as we begin the detailed design process in the new year.”

The Westgate Alliance, a joint venture between landowners Land Securities and The Crown Estate, has recently submitted a planning application for the redevelopment of the centre.

Once completed, the shopping centre will have a new underground car park with 1,100 places, a large department shop and cinema and 72,000 square metres of new retail space.

Graham Jones, of traders’ group ROX, said: “I think Oxford is an international city and we are the home to high academia, a leading hospital and great science parks.

“Oxford probably has not kept pace on the retail front, so I think that if they are going for some upmarket retailers, that can only add to the shops in Oxford but we have to make sure that the balance is kept with independents.

“There are access issues into the city, but Oxford is an attractive place for big international retailers.”

Bob Bradley, president of Oxfordshire Chamber of Commerce, agreed that the city would be attractive to top retailers.

He said: “Oxford is one of the most well-known brand names in the world and it must be quite high in the tourist destination ranks.

“The city isn’t a great retail destination and it has got a number of challenges, some of which are inevitable parts of its history, but I would suggest the Westgate redevelopment is a part of trying to change that in a constructive way.”

A decision on the Westgate planning application will be made by a committee of city councillors in the new year.

If approval is given, the centre is expected to open in 2017.