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500 residents fight to halt £100m West Way project
MORE than 500 residents have backed an appeal to stop the sale of West Way shopping centre to developers in an attempt to block the £100m rebuild.
Doric wants to demolish Botley’s council-owned West Way centre and privately-owned Elms Parade of shops to make way for a development including a supermarket, cinema, health centre and 600 student flats.
But facing a backlash by residents, councillors have now put forward a motion asking for the Vale of White Horse District Council to pull out of its deal to sell its land to developers Doric Properties.
The motion is to be discussed at the council meeting tomorrow in Abingdon’s Guildhall from 7pm.
It has been proposed by Lib Dem district councillor for North Hinksey and Whytham, Debby Hallett.
Cllr Hallett said: “The views are overwhelmingly against the plans. I have had hundreds of people contacting me against them but only four supporting them.
“We are trying to get the Vale to refuse the sale. We have been told by a cabinet member it could always back out but the land is valuable. It is an uphill battle.”
An agreement was made in January between the council and Doric but the sale has been put on hold until planning permission is given.
Now more than 500 people have signed a petition backing the proposal.
Doric has carried out two public consultations on the scheme, the second of which closed yesterday.
It revealed the plans also include a bigger library, a medical facility, a 550-space car park and restaurants.
Doric has said it would also build a new retirement home if it knocks down the existing Field House.
The development includes demolishing Elms Parade but the Howse family, who own it, has said it will not sell up.
Doric has said it plans to make the family another offer after it submits plans.
Botley resident Priscilla Waugh said: “It is quite scary. Money talks when things are tight but a bit of long-term thinking is needed.
“It is absurd and totally out of scale. It is a popular little shopping centre and the Elms parade of shops is attractive.”
Campaign leader Chris Church said: “It is time the Vale did the best for Botley rather than having our community run by a London property firm.
“What we don’t want is the whole area flattened.”
He added the group, with more than 280 supporters signed up so far, were meeting last night to organise campaign events in November.
Doric spokesman Bobby Dean said: “Doric has a conditional agreement to purchase most of the sites within the scheme from the Vale, with the deal subject to planning permission, and discussions are continuing with other landowners.”
January 2013 – Multi-million pound plans are announced to demolish West Way and Elms parade to build a new centre.
February 28 to March 2, 2013 – Doric hold its first public consultation for residents to give feedback.
April, 2013 – Residents launch the West Way Community Concern group.
October 21, 2013 – The second round of public consultations closes.
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