A NEW supermarket should be built in Botley Road, despite concerns it could increase Oxford’s “severe” traffic problems, planning officers say.
Waitrose is planning a new 24,500 sq ft store, by demolishing the former MFI building.
Oxford City Council planning officers said the proposed supermarket, which could provide up to 160 new jobs, should be given planning permission next week.
But they raised concerns about its impact on Botley Road, which is regularly clogged with traffic.
Planning officer Matthew Parry said: “Botley Road is already considered to be subject to severe traffic problems which, in officers’ view, the development will only worsen, by not only increasing the number of journeys along the road itself, but also by causing congestion in the area immediately around the site access points.
“There is also likely to be additional conflict between highway users, including between drivers attempting to access and leave the store. This would be as well as cyclists and pedestrians crossing over the access points when travelling between the city centre and Botley.”
Waitrose, whose only other Oxford store is in Headington, hopes to open the new site next year, with 150 parking spaces provided.
Mr Parry said that the principle of the existing building being used for any type for retail – including food – was established when the city council lost a planning appeal over the site in 2010.
This means Waitrose could simply turn the existing building into a supermarket by making only a few alterations inside and out.
Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, did not object to the proposal but expresssed regret that the site was being used for a supermarket. Development control officer John Patey said: “Botley Road is a heavily trafficked arterial route into the city, which remains busy for lengthy periods of the day and experiences substantial congestion during peak periods.
“For this reason the highway authority would have preferred to see an alternative use of the site, such as housing or car-free offices, which could have significantly reduced the turning movements into and out of the site.”
City councillor Colin Cook, who lives near the site, said it could take some cars off the road.
He said: “Clearly they will get trade from people who are already passing and combined with that there could be a reduction in the cars in the area travelling to other supermarkets.”
A spokesman for the supermarket’s developer, Rockspring, said the new store would be smaller than the existing building.