RESIDENTS who complained that a new nine-storey tower block next to their homes would be too tall have won their fight

The Botley Development Company, which is building the multi-million pound West Way Square shopping centre, had wanted to build 150 flats at the site.

This was an extension to plans it already had permission for to build a smaller, eight-storey block containing 120 flats.

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But nearby residents contested that the tower was too tall and there was not enough space for all their new neighbours to park their cars.

This week, councillors on Vale of White Horse District Council agreed with the residents, voting against the recommendation of their own staff and refusing the plans.

However, the Botley Development Company has now said it is unlikely to be able to go ahead with its original plans for 120 flats, saying that it would not be able to break even on the project, suggesting that it could now appeal against the council's decision.

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A design drawing of the site. Picture: Botley Development Company

As the Vale planning committee met on Wednesday night, Botley resident James Hyndman said he was worried about where people from the extra flats would park, as car parks in the area all required permits.

He said: “Residents will inevitably park on the nearby, somewhat crowded streets which will make parking for all who live around the area rather stressful.”

His neighbour Mary Gill said the proposals went against a restriction set out in an official report called the Botley supplementary planning document, which limited the height of all new buildings in the area to eight storeys.

Speaking on behalf of the Botley Development Company, Neil Rowley – a planning consultant for Savills – said the building would only be 1.5m taller than in the original plans, as the maintenance ducts between floors and ceilings could be made smaller without the rooms being shortened.

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Mr Rowley added that the West Way scheme had already created a ‘local centre that is fit for the 21st century’ and said the money made from adding the extra flats to the new building would mean it was ‘just about possible to deliver it’.

As well as adding new flats to the building, the developer had also wanted to change a contract with the council so it would only pay £1m towards new affordable homes instead of £2m, and would set aside more flats on the site for affordable rent instead.

The Savills consultant added: “It has not been easy for us we have suffered from Brexit, the decline of the retail market and two lockdowns but we have delivered what we have promised.”

Oxford Mail:

The new shops at West Way this week. Picture: Dave Fleming

But some on the committee were doubtful about the changes to the scheme.

Vale councillor Jenny Hannaby said she was disappointed the developer wanted to go above the eight-storey building limit in Botley.

She added: “I cannot see any benefit for agreeing to this extra 30 dwellings.”

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Committee chairman Max Thompson said there were ‘good reasons’ for refusing to grant planning permission because the building would be too large and there was not enough parking nearby.

But Robert Madison said he was not convinced by the argument about the building being too large.

Following the meeting, a spokesperson for Botley Development Company said: “We are very disappointed with the Vale of White Horse District Council’s planning committee’s decision – contrary to officer advice – to reject the revised plans for phase 2 of West Way in Botley for the additional 30 much-needed homes.

Oxford Mail:

The new shops at West Way this week. Picture: Dave Fleming

“Unfortunately, it means that we are not able to proceed with phase 2 and we are reviewing our options. In the meantime, all works will cease.”

Plans for a taller tower block at the site were first revealed in March this year, with Botley residents invited to an event in Seacourt Hall to see them, and asked to comment on them in a survey.

More than 200 objections to the plans were sent to the council from residents.