A FIVE-screen cinema and designer fashion outlet have been revealed as the latest two big name tenants for the redeveloped Westgate Shopping Centre.

Developer Westgate Alliance Oxford said it had signed deals with Curzon Cinemas and Michael Kors, that will operate alongside a flagship three-storey John Lewis store.

The announcement came as city council bosses last night signed off plans to use £1.1m – of an expected £4.3m in contributions from the alliance – to pay for public space improvements around the site.

It will be spent on pedestrian areas such as Bonn Square, pavements in Castle Street and Norfolk Street and Pennyfarthing Place.

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Next Tuesday, the council’s west area planning committee will consider the final plans for the development.

Westgate Alliance development director Bert Martin said: “We are creating a world-class retail and leisure destination that will ensure Oxford’s shopping and dining offer is synonymous with its world-renowned heritage status.”

The Curzon Cinema, part of a chain which specialises in independent artistic films, will be the fourth of its kind outside London.

Mel Alcock, chief operating officer of Curzon, said: “We are extremely excited to be bringing our state-of-the-art offer to such an exciting scheme. Westgate Oxford provides the ideal location and audience for our brand.”

The addition of Curzon will bring the number of cinemas in Oxford to six.

Martin Langley, general manager of the Jericho-based Phoenix Picturehouse, said the new cinema would be “competition”, but was expected.

He said: “There are already five cinemas in Oxford, so we will just continue to work hard at providing what we think is the service those who come to the Picturehouse want.”

Oxford Mail:

  • City council leader Bob Price

At last night’s meeting, Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said the roadway near Bonn Square would be paved over and the bike racks removed. He added: “At this stage we are keeping our options open as regards whether or not buses will be able to pass through.

“We will probably try it with buses staying in Queen Street for a bit and give it a bit of a test.”

Council board member for transport John Tanner said: “Generally people I have spoken to have been very supportive but, of course, we will always keep an open mind.

“I remain concerned about transport improvements and about residents at St Ebbe’s by the river being able to get in and out of their homes.”

Yesterday the Oxford Mail asked shoppers about the plans.

Mother-of-six Emma Partridge, 34, from Faringdon, said: “I had heard about the plans to change the Westgate Centre and I’ll definitely be using it. I’ve got teenagers, so if they add more upmarket shops and restaurants I’ll use them too.”

Littlemore builder Jon Barrow, 34 , said: “I’m not likely to use any new shops, I like to just run in to Primark to grab what I need then off home. My wife will probably get more use out of it.”

Miguel Casdellaaos, a crepe vendor based outside the Westgate Centre, said: “The shops might make more people come to us but if there are more restaurants or fast food places we might have to move to another street.”

Developers hope that if planning approval is given to the Westgate proposals next Tuesday, work could start in early 2015, with a view to opening the new centre in autumn 2017.

The new development will be made up of three large buildings connected by a series of bridges and one residential block.

The shopping centre’s Bonn Square entrance has been redesigned to feature a curved stone wall with a lantern on top.

It will have 70 new shops – including the 110,000sq ft John Lewis – a cinema, cafes and restaurants, a rooftop terrace and 120 homes.

Five architectural firms have worked on the scheme, including Panter Hudspith, which worked on the redevelopment of Oxford Castle, and Dixon Jones, which designed the Said Business School.

And two storeys of underground parking for 1,100 cars is to be provided, with the current 900-space multi-storey set to be demolished.

While construction is ongoing a 420-space temporary multi-storey car park next to Oxford Ice Rink will be used, as well as a 150-space area at Osney Lane.

The Westgate scheme was approved in principle by Oxford City Council in March, but the west area planning committee will consider the final details on Tuesday at 6.30pm in the Town Hall.

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