THE Westgate shopping centre is to officially open on October 24, 2017.

The launch of the £440m development in less than nine months' time aims to make sure new shops benefit from the Christmas rush.

So far more than 70 per cent of the 800,000 sq ft shopping centre off Queen Street has been pre-let.

Among the high street favourites to be pitching up in Oxford include a new 140,000 sq ft John Lewis flagship store as well as Body Shop, Smashbox, Accessorize, Lush and Hotel Chocolat.

Food offerings will incoude Pho, Pizza Pilgrims, The Alchemist and Sticks 'n' Sushi as well as a public roof garden complete with cocktail bar.

Overall the Westgate centre will feature more than 100 stores and 25 restaurantes and cafes as well as a new Curzon cinema.

Bert Martin, development director for the Westgate Oxford Alliance, said: “Westgate Oxford is one of the largest and most highly anticipated retail and leisure destinations of 2017 and so we’re excited to announce that we’ll be opening its doors to the public on October 24.

"Visitors to Westgate can expect a first-class line-up of retail, food and leisure brands that will further cement Oxford as one of the most attractive cities in the country to spend time in.”

Bob Price, the leader of Oxford City Council, said:  "The opening of Westgate Oxford will create more than 3,000 jobs and training opportunities for people living in and around the city.

"The opening in October comes at a good time for shoppers and for the retailers in the run up to Christmas, and we expect the new centre to have benefits for the rest of the city centre by attracting people from across the region and further afield."