THE family that owns a row of shops threatened by demolition spoke of their relief yesterday as developers dropped their appeal over the £100m West Way scheme in Oxford.

An announcement yesterday that developers Doric and Mace had withdrawn their appeal after being turned down for planning permission brought a definitive end to the plan to flatten Elms Parade and surrounding shops for a supermarket, hotel, cinema, gym, library, 50 flats and 525 student rooms.

A smaller-scale development will be put forward later this year by developer Mace that will see Elms Parade shops, Field House sheltered accommodation and the St Peter and St Paul Church vicarage left untouched.

The Howse family owns the 13 shops and seven flats that make up Elms Parade. They have lost much of their land through Compulsory Purchase Orders over the years and faced being left with only a small strip alongside the A34.

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Arthur Howse said: “I’m very pleased indeed. It just goes to show that if you act in a very greedy way as Doric has you can end up with nothing.

“We have suffered Compulsory Purchase Orders with most of our land at Botley and this is the last major bit left.

“We would have still had one acre by the side of the A34 but its difficult to know what to do with that.”

Mr Howse added: “It’s the news we have been waiting for. We had every intention of keeping it and it looks like we will now be able to. I’ll be only too pleased to partake in discussions for the future redevelopment of the area.”

Last month the Oxford Mail revealed negotiations were taking place between Mace, Vale of White Horse District Council and campaign group West Way Community Concern concerning new proposals for the centre.

More than 1,200 people objected to the initial proposals, which were unanimously rejected by the Vale’s planning committee in December.

West Way Community Concern co-chairman Chris Church said: “This is a wonderful victory for the people of Botley. This is the end of the hugely unpopular ‘Doric plan’ for Botley.

“Two years ago we said we would work to save Elms Parade, Field House and the vicarage. Thanks to all the efforts of our community, we have won that campaign.

“It is especially important for people living in Field House and the rest of the threatened area who faced having to leave their homes.”

Mr Church said the group would work constructively with Mace to ensure any new development is “what Botley wants”.

Co-developer Mace has now taken the lead on the project and Vale council has agreed to extend the contract with it to put forward fresh plans to redevelop the shopping centre in collaboration with the community.

Mace development director Huw Griffiths said: “We are pleased with the progress we have made together to address many of the concerns with the West Way development plans and we look forward to working on a replacement scheme that better meets the needs of the Botley community.”

Doric Properties failed to respond to a request for comment.