GAS-powered vehicles should serve Oxford’s redeveloped city centre to reduce air pollution, according to city councillors.

Compressed natural gas can be used to fuel buses and trucks and can cut harmful pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and particulates.

Now Jean Fooks, Oxford city councillor for Summertown, has said delivery vans should be gas-powered serving a John Lewis store in the redeveloped Westgate shopping centre.

The idea has already been successfully deployed at a London Waitrose, owned by parent company John Lewis.

Mrs Fooks said: “The new low emission zone in Oxford requires buses to meet high standards but more is needed, especially to address the pollution from lorries and other freight vehicles.

“We should also look at asking other shops about it as well. In this case, as the company that owns John Lewis has done this previously they have the experience and can set an example.”

Oxford Bus Users spokes-man Hugh Jaeger said the system could be used to bring greener buses to the city.

A number of bus companies have recently invested in electric hybrid buses to comply with Oxford City Council’s low emission zone in the city centre.

But Mr Jaeger said they could go “even further”.

He added: “The potential is huge. Natural gas buses can reduce harmful emissions and would quite rapidly improve air quality.

“The drawbacks would be the cost, almost £200,000 each, and the fact that currently you could only have single-deckers.

Public consultation begins.

SHOPPERS had their first chance to see plans for the £400m redevelopment of the Westgate centre yesterday.

A consultation has been launched as the developers – the Westgate Alliance – finalise their plans for the shopping centre before submitting a planning application.

The architects behind the shopping centre have put together designs for a curved stone entrance in Bonn Square featuring a tower topped with a glazed lantern.

City centre resident Claire Townsend, 38, said: “It looks very interesting and I think it might be a good thing for Oxford.
“I have a concern that it might be overdevelopment of the site but it is hard to tell from the
pictures. It cannot be worse than what is there now.”

The consultation will run until Wednesday and is taking place in the Westgate centre. You can also comment online by visiting

“For Oxford that might be a big problem because many of the routes use double-deckers, so you would have to find a way to make that commercially viable.”

Some gas-powered buses already operate in Oxfordshire, carrying Rotherfield Peppard residents in South Oxfordshire to and from Reading.

Parish council chairman David Hammond said: “They are quieter and the layouts inside are more spacious.”

Oliver Tickell, Green Party candidate for Summertown in the May elections , who will contest Mrs Fooks’ seat, said electric vehicles should also be considered to bring freight deliveries into the city centre once heavy vehicles had deposited loads at the outskirts.

He said: “Oxford has a problem with air quality. We are regularly in breach of EU targets. We need to do something about that and moving larger vehicles out of the city centre does make sense.”

A spokeswoman for John Lewis said the company could not yet comment on the idea.