Campaigners hire lawyers to look into West Way project over concerns council is too close to developers (From The Oxford Times)
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Campaigners hire lawyers to look into West Way project over concerns council is too close to developers
CAMPAIGNERS against a £100m shopping redevelopment in Botley have threatened legal action if it is approved.
West Way Community Concern have hired Botley-based Blake Lapthorn solictors to look into the planned shopping centre.
They are worried that Vale of White Horse District Council has become too close to developers, who have submitted a planning application for the project.
The group has said that it will probably take the district council to court, should the West Way redevelopment be given planning permission this summer.
Botley resident John Clements, a member of the West Way Community Concern group, said: “We want to understand the process by which we seem to have gone from the Vale selling a small site to ending up with this large development but we are finding it extremely difficult to get any information.
“Information about this has been drip fed out but we have not got to the root of the problem.
“Depending on what the decision is on the planning application, if it is granted we will almost certainly want to challenge that and ask for it to be taken to judicial review because there is the whole issue of the Vale’s conflict of interest between them making money out of this and their responsibilities towards the community.”
Doric is proposing to demolish the centre, as well as Elms Parade, and replace it with a supermarket, cinema, hotel, restaurants and cafes, 525 student bedrooms, community spaces and a Baptist church.
In January 2013 the district council signed a deal with Doric to redevelop the 1960s shopping centre, but the site has since expanded to include sheltered housing Field House and the vicarage to St Peter and St Paul’s church.
Mr Clements, 67, of Raleigh Park Road, said: “The district council has given signals that they may have made their minds up, but we have to be clear and we cannot take any actions based on rumours.”
A decision on the planning application will be made by a committee of district councillors by August 31.
A spokesman for Vale of White Horse District Council said: “The planning application will be determined by the planning committee, which is governed by strict rules and case law relating to how it goes about its business.”
Founding director of Doric Simon Hillcox said: “We are confident that the Vale has followed all the correct procedures during the sale process and that there has been no conflict of interest.”
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