A LONG-AWAITED project to build a multi-million pound shopping centre in Botley is facing yet more delays - with frustration mounting over the increasingly deserted spot.

Plans to transform the West Way centre in Botley were given planning permission more than a year ago and many of the traders have already moved out, leaving the majority of units empty.

But now developers Mace have been dealt a fresh blow in their efforts to bulldoze the existing centre after the county council objected to changes made to the original scheme.

With more and more empty units and footfall declining for the remaining businesses, exasperated residents, shoppers and traders are eagerly awaiting some movement on the £100m redevelopment.

Arthur Howse, who has part-owned the Elms Parade shops near the West Way since 1976, said that his businesses were beginning to struggle.

He said: “While all these shops are empty, people are not bothered to come to Botley. I think they should just get on with it. The sooner it is done, the better it will be for everybody.

“I’ve had concerns about it for the last five years and will no doubt will have concerns about it until I die but it’s probably the best it is going to be now. They need to just get on and do it.”

The controversial plans will see the original 1960s shopping centre demolished and replaced it with new shops, a hotel and student accommodation.

The revised application includes a change of use of the Elms Court and Grant Thornton building, which is planned to be used as a temporary home for the Co-Op, pharmacy and library while the old part of the centre is demolished.

The application was set to go before Vale of White Horse planning committee on Wednesday, August 23, but this will no longer happen.

District councillor Debby Hallett said the most recent delay comes after an objection from Oxfordshire County Council Highways department over the positioning of an entrance to the site.

She said: “Because they have not resolved it, it cannot go in front of the planning committee yet.

“It is just delay after delay. The next planning meeting is not until September 6 but whether they can turn the issues around in a week, I do not know.

“Mace want to do the right thing and they will work with the community, they want it to work but it is taking forever and the shopping centre is now derelict.

“It makes me really cross because one of the big promises was to ensure the continuity of the services and businesses already in the centre.

“And although Mace are trying hard to preserve what they can, at this rate we are losing something every month."

Businesses Hair Therapy and Café Aloha, which provided a much-needed meeting place for residents, are among the businesses that have already closed in preparation for the demolition.

Supermarket Iceland, which was due to close in June, will remain open while the planning application is considered.

Mary Gill, co-Chair of West Way Community Concern, said: “We all thought that Mace were a good construction management company, but unfortunately the plans that were approved last summer couldn’t be built as they planned.

“So they’ve known since February this year that the plans would change, and that this could require further planning permission.

"For some reason the application didn’t come in until June. They didn’t consult with local people and the county council and are now choosing to deal with objections as they arise, which is only resulting in further delays.”

Despite the issues, Mace remains optimistic that it will be able to keep the latest timetable set in May, when the new planning application was submitted to demolish the shopping centre in one go.

A spokesman for Mace Dan Bleach said: “We are still working towards the timetable up on our website.

“Which says that we hope to be able on site in the autumn this year.”

For more information on the latest application visit the district council’s website and search using the reference number: P17/V1507/FUL