Members battling plans to demolish their social club

The Oxford Times: A map of the Castle Quay development development site; belowRob Kinchin-Smith, Banbury Civic Society chairman A map of the Castle Quay development development site; belowRob Kinchin-Smith, Banbury Civic Society chairman

SOCIAL club members have opposed controversial plans to demolish it to make way for a shopping centre.

A 1,044-signature petition opposed the plan to extend Banbury’s Castle Quay shopping centre.

Plans show this would involve the demolitioh of the General Foods Sports and Social Club, in Spiceball Park Road.

The plans – for a supermarket, cinema, restaurants and hotel – have been backed by Cherwell District Council planning officer Graham Wyatt. Councillors will be asked to make a decision at a meeting next week.

Mr Wyatt said planning permission would not override private land rights between the club and shopping centre.

But centre owners Scottish Widows Group could ask the council to force the sale of the club’s land, he said. The club was not available for comment.

Letters sent by users said: “It would be a great pity to lose this club and to think of demolition, well, it’s just unthinkable, to take away a well-loved and respected amenity.”

Some 80 letters opposed the plans.

Banbury Town Council objected as “land is part of the designated cultural quarter” and lorries could struggle to deliver to the supermarket.

It comes after Scottish Widows and the owners of Banbury Cross Retail Park failed last month to stop an out-of-town retail park going ahead.

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The High Court upheld district council permission for ‘Banbury Gateway’, to include a Next and Marks & Spencer at Wildmere Industrial Estate, near junction 11 of the M40.

Banbury Civic Society chairman Rob Kinchin-Smith said of the Castle Quay plan: “It will not benefit the historic town centre and will instead slowly drain what remaining life the town centre has into Scottish Widows hands.”

The northern car park would be demolished but new parking would increase total spaces from 465 to 640 with two new bridges over the Oxford and Cherwell canals.

Mr Wyatt said the plan meets the council’s strategy “to strengthen the town centre retail base and enhance the leisure offer and the night-time economy” and give the centre a major supermarket.

He said it would “increase leisure development within the town centre without impacting on its ability to draw future investment into it”.

The planning committee will make a decision when it meets at the council’s offices in White Post Road, Bodicote, from 4pm on Thursday. The public can attend.

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