OXFORD Greens yesterday demanded plans to redevelop the Westgate Centre should be dumped in favour of hundreds of affordable homes because people were not “clamouring” for the £330m scheme.

The plea came as senior Labour councillors on Oxford City Council are today expected to agree to the latest negotiations for Crown Estate and the Land Securities Group to regenerate the centre.

Oxford Green party chairman Sushila Dhall said: “We don’t hear people clamouring for more car parking or chain stores.

“What we see is the desperate shortage of affordable housing in Oxford.”

But yesterday shoppers and the chamber of commerce said the city was in desperate need of a redeveloped Westgate to try to reclaim its prime position as a retail centre.

The long-awaited redevelopment is to include a John Lewis department store and a small amount of housing, with the latest hope of building starting in 2014 and it potentially opening in 2017.

But Ms Dhall said any redevelopment should include affordable homes and small independent shops.

She said: “It is on public land, originally built with public money, and giving it to chain stores is giving it to private sector hands.”

David Williams, leader of the Green group on the city council, said up to 400 homes could be built on the site.

He said: “The days of grand malls are over. In the last few years more and more people are buying online.

“People’s shopping habits are changing.”

Nigel Wild, president of Oxfordshire Chamber of Commerce, said the Greens’ idea was “ill thought out”.

He said: “It is vital it is a shopping site. There is space around the city for houses.

“This is a prime shopping location. It will draw people to Oxford and creates jobs in Oxford.”

City council leader Bob Price said the Greens’ idea was unrealistic.

Jeremy Ginaud, of Breton Crepe Company which trades outside the Westgate, said nearby shopkeepers would benefit from a better shopping centre. He said: “It looks old.”

An agreement is expected to be made at a closed session of the city executive this afternoon which will hand developer Westgate Oxford Alli-ance Partnership, a 100-year lease of the site and car parks.

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