The approval given to the £500m redevelopment and extension of the Westgate Centre is to be warmly welcomed.

As the city council leader Bob Price says, the existing shopping centre has become an embarrassment for Oxford, with the new centre amounting to a new — and potentially the busiest — Oxford quarter.

It would be churlish after so many disappointments, abandoned schemes and public inquiries not to offer congratulations as we reach the point where serious building work will soon be under way.

For even when a company with the massive resources and ambition of the Crown Estate first became involved, along with Land Securities, the UK’s largest commercial property company, nothing could be taken for granted when it came to a development of this scale in Oxford.

But the managing director of the Oxford Bus Company, Phil Southall, is correct too in drawing our attention to the challenge of getting people to the new centre, given the increase in shopper numbers and reduction in car parking spaces.

And while he has an obvious vested interest, he makes the point that buses must be at the very heart of the Westgate’s long-term viability, while recognising the simple truth that there are only a limited number of ways for buses to get in and out of Oxford.

It seems that the removal of all buses from Queen Street is becoming increasingly viewed as an aspiration, rather than agreed policy.

The issue of bus routes was not part of the planning application that went before city councillors. It is the county council, which as the highway authority, faces the difficult call on this issue.

Its response is to say it is keeping its options open. Satisfying both the bus companies and the Westgate developers will be simply impossible but the decision on Queen Street pedestrianisation must be faced soon.

Thankfully, it seems that John Lewis and the Westgate Alliance are taking a sensible approach, recognising the county council’s real difficulties in delivering pedestrianisation. The city council too is being similarly realistic and supportive.

But as Mr Southall says it would be a mistake to “hide away” the Westgate bus problem until the first shoppers arrive, not least when you have built the city’s entire transport system around public transport.

The lack of any firm decision will increasingly impact on designs, leading to the wasteful necessity of a Plan A and B. Already Oxford City Council has indicated its plans for Bonn Square may have to be modified to accommodate the continuation of buses.

At a time when the county council is looking into a new train service to Cowley, running guided buses to Witney and yes, even bus tunnels under the city, the sound of building work outside County Hall will surely concentrate minds on matters a little closer to home.