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Battle lines drawn as £100m West Way plans finally revealed
BUSINESSES facing demolition could be housed in shipping containers for up to two years if the £100m redevelopment of Botley’s West Way goes ahead.
People can now have their say on controversial £100m plans to redevelop the site after the details of the scheme were finally published.
Publication of the documents has been delayed for more than a month after the planning application was submitted by developers Doric.
Campaigners said changes made were merely cosmetic – with most already revealed.
And they said they were now preparing to launch a major push in their fight against the scheme.
Chris Church, of the West Way Community Concern group, said a large public meeting would now be arranged, in the wake of organised protests over the scheme.
“Opposition to these plans remains just as strong,” he said.
“The much-hyped changes to the first plans are entirely cosmetic.
“We value our community and its surroundings.
“We want a development that maintains and builds local quality.
“What is being forced on us is a poorly designed Nightmare on Elms Parade.”
The major new detail that emerged yesterday was the proposal over the firms using shipping containers – a scheme similar to one used in Shoreditch in East London – with the other main changes already having been revealed.
Doric Properties signed an agreement with the Vale of the White Horse District Council to buy the land at the beginning of last year.
Its proposals are for a development including a large superstore, a piazza, multi-screen cinema, underground car park and 525 student rooms.
There would also be a replacement library, larger community facilities and a 100-bedroom hotel.
During construction, which is expected to last up to two years, it said good-quality temporary accommodation would be provided for some businesses which Doric said could come in the form of shipping containers placed on the car park behind St Peter and St Paul Church.
But Gary Walker, of Botley Barbers in Elms Parade, which would be demolished as part of the scheme, said this would only work for a limited number of businesses. He said: “I think the development is like squashing a walnut with a steamroller really. It is a bit over the top.”
Ag MacKeith, of Old Botley, said: “My main concern about the development is that it has silently upgraded our shopping centre from being a local centre to a
district centre but we are just a small suburb of Oxford – we don’t want to compete with Witney and Abingdon. I think Doric has greatly misjudged the client base for this development.”
Boxpark in Shoreditch is a temporary mall made of stripped and refitted shipping containers which opened in 2011.
Joint owner of Doric Properties, Simon Hillcox, said: “We’re incredibly proud of our plans and delighted that the community will now be able to see them in detail on the council’s website.
“Our conversations have already led to some very positive improvements. For example, the West Way frontage is up to four storeys lower and has been completely redesigned to look and feel more like a traditional high street.
“Our £100m investment includes a brand new community hall, the designs of which have been developed with North Hinksey Parish Council, a new Baptist Church, a library twice the size of the existing library in a prominent location – all amongst a range of other benefits, including up to 1,000 jobs.”
Matthew Barber, leader of the district council, has said it took a long time to process the documents because of the size of the application.
A spokesman for the district council said: “The delay in validating the application was due to essential clarification on a number of issues. These have now been resolved, and the plans are now live on our website. Consultation will start today for just over seven weeks.
“The closing date for comments will be March 27, 2014. The delay in validating the application has had no impact on the length of time available for the local community to comment of the application.
“In fact, we have extended the consultation period to ensure that anyone who reads the details in the press from February 13 will have a full six weeks from that date.”
The council has issued a target decision date of May 1.
Comments can now be sent to Vale of White Horse District Council. Visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk
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