AUTHOR Philip Pullman has told the people of Botley to be ready to rejoin the fight for the future of West Way shopping centre.

The His Dark Materials writer warned the community against “resting on their laurels” after fighting off plans for redevelopment.

He said: “It’s important to celebrate the victory but we must not rest on our laurels.

“The struggles of the last year have brought about a wonderful sense of community in Botley that must be maintained.”

In December, Vale of White Horse District Council’s planning committee rejected a £100m proposal to regenerate Botley’s West Way shopping centre.

Developer Doric Properties Ltd wanted to demolish Elms Parade and Field House sheltered accommodation for a supermarket, gym, hotel, restaurants, 50 flats and 525 student rooms.

Mr Pullman lives in Cumnor but said he had been monitoring events with great interest and even signed a letter objecting to the proposals.

He said: “It was a victory for good sense and local action.

“These are very important places in the community but all developers see is a great shiny gold pound sign.

“They will be back and we must all be ready to argue, demonstrate and write again if we need to.”

Developer Mace has taken the project forward with the promise of keeping Elms Parade and Field House.

Campaign group West Way Community Concern has organised a meeting tonight for residents to quiz Mace directors and its architects at 7pm at St Peter & St Paul Church.