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£100m Botley development plan to be scrutinised more closely
RESIDENTS cheered as a review was ordered for plans for a controversial £100m redevelopment of Botley’s shopping centre.
Senior Vale of White Horse District Council members last night ordered a scrutiny committee probe the plans next month.
Doric Properties wants to flatten the West Way shopping centre and surrounding buildings.
These would be replaced by a development including a six-screen cinema, health centre, supermarket, library, and 600 student flats.
The council owns part of the land and has done a deal to sell it to Doric, though some fear it will overdevelop the site.
Conservative leader Matthew Barber and Liberal Democrat scrutiny committee chairman Jim Halliday approved the review last night at a full council meeting.
Mr Barber said: “I think it is an excellent idea to bring the matter to the scrutiny committee. It is a sensible way forward.”
But he said the council could not pull out of its deal with Doric, agreed in December. The committee will make recommendations on the plans.
He said: “I have great sympathy with the concerns raised by local residents.
“I agree with an awful lot of what has been said, and that the concerns raised by the public have not been taken properly into account.
“I think we can find a way forward that not only improves the scheme but makes sure members of the public are more informed.”
The decision was taken following a motion by North Hinksey and Wytham Lib Dem councillor Debby Hallett, calling for the sale to be blocked.
She said: “I’m really pleased with the outcome. We got an agreement in principle that there are big problems with Doric’s proposals.
“I really liked hearing Matthew Barber say what he said, that basically we are right, and I feel cautiously optimistic now.”
Cllr Hallett has raised concerns about issues like traffic and the scale of the development.
About a dozen residents cheered when the decision was taken at Abingdon’s Guildhall.
Emily Smith, 35, of Sycamore Road, Botley, said: “The plans are too big and don’t meet the needs of the residents. It is about bringing people in from outside.
“The impact would be huge. The traffic on Botley Road is a nightmare already, just getting my son across it to school is very hairy.
“The decision was positive. I wasn’t expecting the council to reject the development completely and block the sale.”
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