Campaigners hire lawyers to look into West Way project over concerns council is too close to developers

The Oxford Times: West Way campaigners Chris Church, Grant Nightingale, Gordon Stokes, Mary Gill and John Clements Picture: OX67928 Mark Hemsworth Buy this photo West Way campaigners Chris Church, Grant Nightingale, Gordon Stokes, Mary Gill and John Clements Picture: OX67928 Mark Hemsworth

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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Comments (4)

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8:48am Fri 20 Jun 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

The planning process in Oxfordshire is pretty much redundant.

The true process is handled by "Activist" groups and the courts.
The planning process in Oxfordshire is pretty much redundant. The true process is handled by "Activist" groups and the courts. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

9:22am Fri 20 Jun 14

Megs says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
The planning process in Oxfordshire is pretty much redundant. The true process is handled by "Activist" groups and the courts.
There are thousands of planning applications in Oxfordshire every year and only a miniscule amount go to court. A few do go to appeal. i.e. a planning inspector, but only the developer is allowed to lodge an appeal, not objectors to any scheme. It is therefore extremely difficult to understand how "activists" handle the process, as Andrew mistakenly believes.
What is interesting and a cause for concern in this case is the lack of information forthcoming from the Vale about the processes it has engaged in, in relation to the sale of the site and subsequent developments, which is clearly not in the interest of open, transparent and democratic local government. It is all very well for the developer to state that he is sure everything is above board - perhaps he even has evidence and can share it with the public, if the Council, both officials and our elected representatives will not?
As for the Planning Committee, of course they have strict legal protocols by which they must abide, we would expect no less; but that still does not make it impossible for their personal opinions to intervene, which can sometimes lead to daft and counter-intuitive decisions. They are, after all, human and fallible.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: The planning process in Oxfordshire is pretty much redundant. The true process is handled by "Activist" groups and the courts.[/p][/quote]There are thousands of planning applications in Oxfordshire every year and only a miniscule amount go to court. A few do go to appeal. i.e. a planning inspector, but only the developer is allowed to lodge an appeal, not objectors to any scheme. It is therefore extremely difficult to understand how "activists" handle the process, as Andrew mistakenly believes. What is interesting and a cause for concern in this case is the lack of information forthcoming from the Vale about the processes it has engaged in, in relation to the sale of the site and subsequent developments, which is clearly not in the interest of open, transparent and democratic local government. It is all very well for the developer to state that he is sure everything is above board - perhaps he even has evidence and can share it with the public, if the Council, both officials and our elected representatives will not? As for the Planning Committee, of course they have strict legal protocols by which they must abide, we would expect no less; but that still does not make it impossible for their personal opinions to intervene, which can sometimes lead to daft and counter-intuitive decisions. They are, after all, human and fallible. Megs
  • Score: 4

9:53am Fri 20 Jun 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Megs wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
The planning process in Oxfordshire is pretty much redundant. The true process is handled by "Activist" groups and the courts.
There are thousands of planning applications in Oxfordshire every year and only a miniscule amount go to court. A few do go to appeal. i.e. a planning inspector, but only the developer is allowed to lodge an appeal, not objectors to any scheme. It is therefore extremely difficult to understand how "activists" handle the process, as Andrew mistakenly believes.
What is interesting and a cause for concern in this case is the lack of information forthcoming from the Vale about the processes it has engaged in, in relation to the sale of the site and subsequent developments, which is clearly not in the interest of open, transparent and democratic local government. It is all very well for the developer to state that he is sure everything is above board - perhaps he even has evidence and can share it with the public, if the Council, both officials and our elected representatives will not?
As for the Planning Committee, of course they have strict legal protocols by which they must abide, we would expect no less; but that still does not make it impossible for their personal opinions to intervene, which can sometimes lead to daft and counter-intuitive decisions. They are, after all, human and fallible.
Miniscule only when referring to volume.

When it comes to scale - there are always threats of legal action. It's what the notorious Oxforshire faction of the CPRE exist for.
[quote][p][bold]Megs[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: The planning process in Oxfordshire is pretty much redundant. The true process is handled by "Activist" groups and the courts.[/p][/quote]There are thousands of planning applications in Oxfordshire every year and only a miniscule amount go to court. A few do go to appeal. i.e. a planning inspector, but only the developer is allowed to lodge an appeal, not objectors to any scheme. It is therefore extremely difficult to understand how "activists" handle the process, as Andrew mistakenly believes. What is interesting and a cause for concern in this case is the lack of information forthcoming from the Vale about the processes it has engaged in, in relation to the sale of the site and subsequent developments, which is clearly not in the interest of open, transparent and democratic local government. It is all very well for the developer to state that he is sure everything is above board - perhaps he even has evidence and can share it with the public, if the Council, both officials and our elected representatives will not? As for the Planning Committee, of course they have strict legal protocols by which they must abide, we would expect no less; but that still does not make it impossible for their personal opinions to intervene, which can sometimes lead to daft and counter-intuitive decisions. They are, after all, human and fallible.[/p][/quote]Miniscule only when referring to volume. When it comes to scale - there are always threats of legal action. It's what the notorious Oxforshire faction of the CPRE exist for. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -1

1:09pm Fri 20 Jun 14

mytaxes says...

The campaigners are really becoming rather tiresome.
The campaigners are really becoming rather tiresome. mytaxes
  • Score: -4

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