CONCERNS have been raised that the new Westgate Centre revamp and others like it are ‘pricing out’ shoppers on lower budgets.

Some less well-off residents claim the Westgate has displaced budget shops and eateries from the city centre, leaving them with little choice but to venture elsewhere.

The Oxford Times: Shoppers outside John Lewis at the Westgate Centre in Oxford. Picture Jon Lewis

The refurb, which cost £440 million, sports an L.K. Bennett, John Lewis and a Hugo Boss, but the nearest Wilkinson is a 2.9 mile walk away.

Westgate claims the new development will add ‘an enhanced retail core to the city centre', but there has been criticism that the offering of shops is unhelpful for Oxford families trying to make ends meet.

Jon Makroum, 24, of Banbury Road, said: “Supporting a family on a modest income is challenging in itself, but going to the city and finding only high-end designer shops is disappointing”.

Mr Makroum, an administrator at the John Radcliffe Hospital, added: “It excludes those who don’t have a large, expendable income. I hoped for some budget shops in the Westgate but have yet to see any.”

Emma Mees, Portfolio Manager at Landsec, which developed Westgate, said, “Westgate has welcomed over 65 new brands to the city, with more due to be announced soon, offering a more diverse shopping experience for residents and visitors than ever before.

“We aim to offer something for everyone, from high street favourites such as New Look and Uniqlo, to lifestyle brands such as Seasalt”.

The Oxford Times:

Others told the Oxford Mail that they believe the shops are more geared towards wealthy tourists than the average local resident.

Christine Nixon, of Kidlington, said: “I rarely shop in Oxford because I cannot afford to. Oxford seems more interested in attracting wealthy tourists than in providing affordable shopping options for the people who live and work in the city”.

Oxford is the UK’s ‘least affordable city’ according to the Lloyds Bank Affordable Cities Review, which showed Oxford’s property prices at 11.5 times higher than the average regional wage.

Rushabh Haria, 23, who used to live in Walton Street, Jericho, said: “Oxford is deeply divided, socially, financially, and geographically. Those who live in less-expensive housing in Cowley or Rose Hill have easy access to discount shops, but this isn’t the case if you’re a student living into the City Centre, or in social housing in Jericho or Greyfriars.

“The last Poundland in Oxford city centre went with the old Westgate. The fact that there’s more retail space, yet fewer budget shops, suggests that this is part of the plan to reinvent the Westgate as a more ‘exclusive’ space”.

The nearest Poundland shops to Oxford city centre are in Cowley and Abingdon.

Another shopper, who didn’t want to be named, said, “It absolutely manifests the town and gown divide”.