DESIGNS for the new Westgate Centre in Oxford have been on show from every angle this week.

Councillors voted to approve the £500m shopping scheme on Tuesday, with some conditions attached.

The centre will include a three-storey John Lewis store, 70 new shops, a cinema and an underground car park.

But heritage groups in the city said they still had concerns.

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Oxford Preservation Trust warned that the St Ebbe’s area, including Old Greyfriars and Pennyfarthing Place, would be harmed.

Director Debbie Dance said: “We were not expecting councillors to refuse the application, but we were concerned about the height of some buildings.

“We hope the council is listening to what the effects on views will be, but we understand that with something so big it is an inevitability.

“Like everyone, we look forward to seeing a better Westgate of the future.”

On Tuesday Labour city councillor John Tanner, who voted for the proposals, said the new Westgate would make Oxford “a much better place to live”.

But Green city councillor Elise Benjamin criticised the designs, which she claimed would make Oxford “look like everywhere else”.


  • 1972 The £1.8m Westgate Shopping Centre opens with a large Selfridges and a Sainsbury’s.
  • 1988 Proposals to extend the centre by 23,200 sq m are submitted by CIN Properties and Arrowcroft, but are thrown out.
  • 1999 Artists’ impressions of Capital Shopping Centres’ (CSC) £220m revamped mall are unveiled.
  • 2000 Oxford City Council approves the Westgate extension application.
  • 2001 City council’s decision to grant permission is “called in” by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and a public inquiry is held. A planning inspector recommends approval.
  • 2002 Mr Prescott throws out CSC’s refurbishment plans.
  • 2003 The city council appeals and Mr Prescott’s decision is quashed in the High Court. CSC later withdraws its application.
  • 2006 CSC submits fresh plans for the £300m redevelopment of the Westgate Centre.
  • 2007 Legal agreements are signed and preliminary work is set to begin in 2008 or 2009.
  • 2009 It is announced that the new centre would open in 2014.
  • 2010 CSC sells the Westgate Centre to the Crown Estate and Land Securities, which forms a consortium named Westgate Oxford Alliance.
  • 2013 Westgate Oxford Alliance signs development agreement with Oxford City Council.
  • March 2014 The scheme for the £500m redevelopment of the Westgate Centre is approved in principle by the city council.
  • October 2014 Final plans for the redevelopment are submitted in full and made public.
  • November 2014 The plans are considered at a special meeting of the west area planning committee and approved.

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