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Town square, not more supermarkets, on residents' wishlist for Summertown
FOUR supermarkets are enough for residents being asked to consider a major redevelopment scheme of Summertown’s main car park.
Some of the suggestions for Diamond Place include a town square, multi-storey car park and a new medical centre.
The ideas have emerged as key demands from residents, who warn they will fight the building of supermarkets and large retail units on the shopping area’s main car park.
Residents are being consulted on how the large Oxford City Council owned Diamond Place site should be developed, along with the Ferry car park and neighbouring Oxford University exams building Ewert House.
With businesses anxious to avoid any reduction in car parking spaces, which they say could threaten their viability, there is growing support for a multi-storey car park on the site.
In a bid to ensure local views shape future planning decisions, Summertown/St Margaret’s Neighbourhood Forum is drawing up its own Neighbourhood Plan, allowed under the Coalition’s Localism Act to give communities more say in local developments.
A local referendum could later be held on the Neighbourhood Plan, under the terms of the act.
Oxford City Council has set out a series of options for the 3.5-acre car park site behind Summertown’s main shopping area that include shops, homes, student accommodation and a town square with cafes, performance space and suitable for farmers’ markets.
Forum chairman Martin Roberts said: “We are trying to make sure that any development delivers benefits for the next generation rather than quick profits for developers.
“One of the big issues emerging is how much retail do we need in a place like Summertown? There are already four supermarkets and people are worried about another one.’’ Mr Roberts said the council’s idea for a town square or piazza had been welcomed, with some support for the proposals for a one way system running through the site from Diamond Place to Ferry Pool Road.
But he has called for a detailed analysis about the impact of traffic, with the Northern Gateway development and a new station and park-and ride at Water Eaton likely to add to congestion.
At a meeting with council planners earlier this month, the forum expressed strong support for replacing the Summertown Health Centre, housed in a Victorian building, and the recently closed North Oxford Medical Centre with a new health centre on Diamond Place.
Nick Hardyman, who runs the Summertown.info website said: “If we are to have retail units in there, they should be small units filled by local start- up businesses.
“If we are to have a multi-storey car park it should not stand high above the other buildings.”
St Margaret’s ward councillor Jim Campbell said the site offered an opportunity to build smaller housing units, with housing for the elderly and affordable homes among the preferred options.
A new community centre is another council preferred option. But consultation has shown local support for retaining the existing single-storey North Oxford Association community centre, next to the Ferry Centre.
Copies of the options are available to view at Summertown Library. The consultation runs until May 30. and comments can be made by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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