A NOISY and colourful parade celebrated the first anniversary of the new Westgate shopping centre on Wednesday.

Drummers, stunt walkers and various other performers in costume added to a carnival like atmosphere at the central Oxford venue in afternoon and evening.

John Lewis hosted a rock choir and various other performers, with a number of shops offering special discounts and a new venue called Too Faced opening.

Oxford Mail:

Westgate general manager Brendan Hattam said: “It’s a celebration of Oxford - it’s got a bit of everything in it, the idea is to have a bit of fun.”

Mr Hattam claimed the £440 million development had exceeded expectations in its first 12 months, with 19 million people visiting the centre so far.

Hailing the centre’s ‘whole day out experience’, he continued: “This year has been fantastic - we had triple the amount of people the old Westgate used to get.”

Oxford Mail:

Plans for the future include opening more big brand units - based on feedback from shoppers - with four new stores set to open before Christmas.

Urban Outfitters, Zara and Mango will open this autumn, while Flannels will be on the lower ground floor near Primark.

But the centre has not been without its critics.

Less well-off residents have suggested they are being priced out of shopping there, while anti-plastic campaigners have criticised its environmental policies.

Today one Oxford resident criticised its ‘big, commercial’ nature and how it housed ‘shops you can find anywhere’.

Joel David Hamkins, 52, said: “I like the older, smaller shops. Westgate takes away the character of Oxford.”

However the new centre is thought to have created more than 2,000 jobs and increased footfall in the city by nearly 10 per cent - though possibly at the expense of other areas.

The size of seven football pitches, Westgate has been praised for diverting all waste from landfills.

Oxford University students Shreya Goindi, 25, Lakshika Trikha, 30, said they liked the ‘open architecture’ and that the centre blended well with the city’s ‘vibe’, while still being a good place to do things.

Today also saw John Lewis and Partners’ Westgate Fund being celebrated, after it donated £14,000 to five local charities with the help of the Oxfordshire Community Foundation.