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Local Issue – West Way retail site redevelopment

Summary of issue:

Plans are afoot to redevelop the West Way Shopping Centre site surrounding Elms Parade shops. Initially this was solely the east end of the site as descibed in early information provided on the VOWH District Council website however the area impacted on expanded considerably under the failed 2014 Doric scheme, then shrunk back slightly under the 2015 revised Mace scheme. Latest news – the Vale Planning Committee has approved Mace’s planning applicatrion in June 2016 and locals can expect to see work begin in mid 2017.

Why is it such a big issue?

2014:

VOWH DC and the developer viewed thit as an opportunity to bring in a large supermarket, which could have had major consequences for smaller local shops, and local transport. It all looked like the biggest redevelopment of retail and community buildings in Botley that most people would see in their lifetime, but then it fell at the last hurdle when the Vale refused to approve the planning application.

2015:

Following failure of the 2014 Doric scheme mentioned above the area up for redevelopment reduced slightly by removing plans to demolish Elms Parade and Field House, but the potential impact on Botley from a new scheme still looked potentially significant.

2016:

The new developer, Mace, gains planning approval for a reduced, but still massive redevelopment including a hotel and hundreds of student flats as well as the shops and community building needed by the community.

2017:

The works start? Well not quite yet, but potentially from mid-2017 after many delays and re-phasing of the works. As yet though no movement on the ground.

What has happened so far, in detail?

VOWH put out a notice to prospective developers however, due to economic conditions no serious proposals were forthcoming within the VOWH deadline of March 2011.

The North Hinksey Parish Council arranged an open meeting for residents to attend on 29th February 2012, where Matt Prosser, VOWH DC Strategic Manager gave the following presentation.

A public consultation then allowed residents to give their views. The consultation results:showed a majority of people not favouring the inclusion of a large supermarket in the scheme (preferring instead smaller, independent stores), and worried about the consequences for the library, church and community centre. Summary of results and VOWH response (NB full results also on that website).

The land has now been sold to a developer called Doric Properties and the Parish Council has appointed an agent to negotiate directly with them. Talks are now also underway directly between Doric Properties and a number of interested parties including the Parish Council. The developers have also attempted to buy Elms Parade shops from the Howse family but initial offers have been rejected. Letters have been sent by Doric Properties to several thousand local households in the week commencing 7th January and news articles have appeared based on their press release and on negotiations for Elms Parade shops – see our Local News & Issues page for links to the latest articles. There is also now a section on the West Way redevelopment on the Doric Properties website.

An exhibition of initial plans by Doric Properties took place in Seacourt Hall on February 28th and March 2nd as part of the consultation process. You can see the display boards on the Doric Properties website and a downloadable feedback form. Also a group aiming to co-ordinate the community’s response to redevelopment plans called West Way Community Concern has launched via an article in The Sprout.

The Annual Parish Meeting on 14th March 2013. Julian Seymore of PPS, the PR firm carrying out the consultation on behalf of Doric, addressed the Annual Parish Meeting in Seacourt Hall with preliminary results of the consultation questionnaires.  He outlined the background to the scheme, what has happened so far and then gave a summary of the feedback given.  With 1280 members of the public attending the exhibition and 542 questionnaires being returned so far, he said it was the most well-attended exhibition he has been involved with. Only 74% of the questionnaires have so far been analysed.  See our fuller account of the meeting  and also Doric’s summary of interim results. Separately from this it has been suggested to Doric that they might like to consider including a petrol station in their plans as the Seacourt Tower redevelopment (which in a slightly revised version is now going ahead over 2013-15) will include the removal of that petrol station.

Doric’s consultation finished on 25 March and full results are on their website. West Way Community Concern also ran a survey with a significant number of responses with details on their website.

A follow up presentation from Doric in September revealed more details of their plans which include the areas currently taken up by Elms Parade and Field House, even though neither of those sites has been purchased by them at this stage. On the negative side (based on local reactions) the size of the proposed supermarket is cosiderably larger than expected (or desired) and the student flats total around 600 resulting in a massive central block which would be seven stories high in places. Feedback from the community was highly negative relating to these aspects of the plan. On the positive side the plans include larger spaces for the replacement Library and Community Hall.

Liberal Democrats proposed in October that the VWHDC should completely block the proposed development but it was revealed that elements of the contract signed with Doric last December make this impossible without incurring huge costs which would inevitably fall to local tax payers at the end of the day. As reported in the Oxord Mail this has resulted in the plans and the the behaviour of VWHDC being officially scrutinised in more depth.

West Way Community Concern have organised a petition to send to the VWHDC, held a public meeting at 7pm on on Monday 18 November in SS Peter and Paul Church, and formed a human chain around Elms Parade at 11am on Saturday 23rd November all of which caused a flurry of media coverage.

The plans submitted by Doric to the District Council have now been made public on their website in full, so check out this page on the VOWHDC Planning Register. There are a vast number of documents to look at but it’s worth seeing what the contents of the ‘Supporting Documentation’ folder are (these include things like the impact on traffic, environmemtal issues etc.) as well as the ‘Application Plans’  folder. The ‘Application’ folder, however, contains little to interest the average Botley resident and can probably be safely avoided unless you’re a glutton for punishment.

Mace have now joined Doric in what is described as a ‘Joint Venture Partnership’ as described on the Doric website, and look like taking over increasingly large elements of the development and implementation plans.

The public consultation period for the December 2013 Planning Application is now over.

Amendments to the December 2013 Planning Application have been submitted and can be seen on  the Vale website. The main documents are the D&A addendum, the Environmental Statement addendum and the Transport Statement addendum. The new consultation period ended on 13th October.

Recently further amendments to the plans (see Vale website) were submitted in November.

The planning committee met on 3 December and unanimously REFUSED the application

Doric submitted an appeal.  If this is accepted, the public will have five weeks to make representations.  An alternative is that the community develops its own plan in conjunction with the Vale.  A suggestion for this scenario was presented in The Sprout by West Way Community Concern and you can read it here.  Send your ideas to The Sprout.

March 13 – the appeal is withdrawn and an announcement from the Vale states that following discussions between them, Mace and local representatives (including local Councillors and West Way Community Concern leaders) an extension to the contract will allow a new planning application to be drawn up in a more collaborative manner and specifically excluding Elms Parade shops, Field House and the Vicarage.

The Vale have produced a Supplementary Planning Document which failed to be adopted at the first attempt but will be further reviewed and potentially adopted in January 2016.

Following many meetings with local Council representatives and various community groups to accurately establish what the community requirements are for the site Mace exhibited initial plans on December 7th and 8th which the public have now seen for the first time. These include some student rooms (but considerably less than in the Doric scheme) and a hotel, but no cinema.

The next stages of the process have now been completed with the Vale’s SPD approved and the planning application itself submitted to the Vale at the end of January.

Subsequently the planning application has been verified by the Vale and public consultation carried out until 14th April with further amendments to the plans consulted on up to 2nd June – go to the Vale website to see the plans in detail.

Despite having an original start date for the redevelopment works of January 2017 nothing has happened as yet beyond an announcement from Mace that the works will be re-phased to save time (and money). The office blocks alongside Westminster Way / West Way (Elms Court and the Grant Thornton building) will now apparently stay open in phase 1 of the works while the rest of the site is flattened, and that area will house the community facilities and any shops continuing to trade during the works.

What happens next:

Firstly Mace need to get approval from the Vale for their revamped proposals with the new phasing, and gain change of use approval for the Coop, Tesco, Lloyds Chemists, the Baptist Church and Seacourt Hall to move into new temporary locations (Botley Library will now stay in its current location during phase 1). An application for change of use and other works connected with the temporary locations has now been submitted to the Vale. Sometime soon a detailed Project Management Plan shopuld appear so that everybody knows how this will all fit together, particularly in terms of issues like parking.  Some, but not all of these issues were included in a drop in presentation by Mace about the revised plans held on 13th June.

News Summary:

  • Demolition and rebuild plans for West Way set out – Oxford Mail Wed 14 Jun
  • ‘Well-behaved’ vandal apologises for Botley graffiti on historic shopping parade - Oxford Mail Wed 31 May
  • Vandals deface parade of shops in protest against redevelopment of West Way Shopping Centre - Oxford Mail Tue 9 May
  • Residents hope to resurrect community facilities during demolition of West Way Shopping Centre - Oxford Mail Thur 13 Apr
  • Community mourns loss of shops at Botley’s West Way shopping centre as bulldozers prepare to roll – Oxford Mail Tue 4 Apr
  • Much-loved independents and supermarket bow out of West Way Shopping Centre as bulldozers move in this summer - Oxford Mail Tue 4 Apr
  • Residents hope to pop some life back into West Way Shopping Centre - Oxford Mail Fri 17 Feb
  • All change at West Way as organisations look to move to temporary homes ahead of redevelopment - Oxford Mail Thur 12 Jan
  • New Premier Inn confirmed for Oxford - Oxford Mail Mon 14 Nov
  • West Way campaigners determined to fight for £2m affordable housing to be spent in Botley - Oxford Mail Wed 20 July
  • New face of Botley finally approved by planning committee last night - Oxford Mail Thur 16 June
  • LIVE as it happened: West Way redevelopment approved despite objections – Oxford Mail Blog Wed 15 June
  • Decision time for West Way: Plans to revamp the shopping centre in Botley set to be approved & your say - Oxford Mail Wed 15 June
  • Fight continues for campaigners as West Way Shopping Centre plans show lack of affordable housing - Oxford Mail Wed 8 June
  • Developers reveal difference in height of scaled-down plans for West Way development - Oxford Mail Fri 27
  • MayWest Way changes a ‘victory for people power’ but not enough – Oxford Mail Mon 16 May
  • Botley residents given platform to have their say on West Way development - Oxford Mail Mon 7 Mar
  • Members of the community give mixed reactions to new plans for Botley’s West Way Shopping Centre revamp - Oxford Mail Mon 15 Feb
  • Developers Mace hoping to succeed where Doric failed with new plans for West Way Shopping Centre revamp - Oxford Mail Sat 13 Feb
  • Mace submits consultation-led plans for the redevelopment of the West Way area - Mace Sat 13 Feb
  • West Way Community Concern group and developer Mace meet to discuss plans for £100m development - Oxford Mail Thu 29 Jan
  • Elm Parade and Field House Care Home now vulnerable at West Way site after controversial plans approved - Oxford Mail Tue 19 Jan
  • Controversial SPD for Botley Centre gets Vale of White Horse approval - Oxford Mail Mon 18 Jan
  • Controversial West Way plan likely to be approved as residents question legality of council policy document - Oxford Mail Sat 16 Jan
  • Campaigner Dr Mary Gill claims blueprints for West Way revamp ‘reveals conflict of interest for council’ - Oxford Mail Thur 14 Jan
  • Latest West Way development plans are ‘a step in right direction’, say residents - Oxford Mail Wed 9 Dec
  • New plans for Botley’s West Way shopping centre revealed – no cinema and 273 student rooms - Oxford Mail Mon 7 Dec
  • Family housing may replace cinema bid in rethink at West Way shopping centre - Oxford Mail Sat 21 Nov
  • Consultation on West Way shopping centre blueprint extended after council makes changes - Oxford Mail Fri 20 Nov
  • West Way plan is halted after activists threaten legal action – Oxford Mail Sat 31 Oct
  • Too many old people had say on West Way,’ council alleges – Oxford Mail Tue 27 Oct
  • 300 have their say on West Way document – Oxford Mail Tue 13 Oct
  • ‘Major development essential for viable West Way revamp’ - Oxford Mail Wed 30 Sep
  • ‘Do not miss chance to shape redevelopment of West Way’ - Oxford Mail Wed 23 Sept
  • ‘Match West Way campaign with action… it’s now use us or lose us’ - Oxford Mail Fri 11 Sept
  • Anger as West Way blueprint puts parade’s future in doubt – Oxford Mail Sat 5 Sept
  • West Way redevelopment should cater for teens in community hub, firms told – Oxford Mail Fri 4 Sept
  • ‘West Way masterplan just looks like another Doric all over again’ says campaigners - Oxford Mail Tue 25 Aug
  • Persistence pays for a West Way campaigner as council is ordered to release info – Oxford Mail Thur 30 Jul
  • Public set to see latest West Way plans in autumn - Oxford Mail Mon 27 Jul
  • Consultations due on West Way shopping centre – Oxford Mail Tue 21 Jul
  • MP welcomes fresh approach over West Way redevelopment – Oxford Mail Mon 13 Jul
  • Scaled-down West Way shopping centre plans to be put out to consultation - Oxford Mail Wed 24 Jun
  • Writer leads the way in preventing development - Oxford Mail Mon 22 Jun
  • 1,400 have their say on how West Way shops should be redeveloped – Oxford Mail Sat 6 Jun
  • Developers drop their appeal over £100m West Way plans – Oxford Mail Sat 14 Mar
  • Looking for some fresh ideas to redevelop West Way shops – Oxford Mail Sat 28 Feb
  • Residents share their views on I Love Botley – Oxford Mail Tue 17 Feb
  • Rundown West Way centre will get clean-up funding – Oxford Mail Fri 6 Feb
  • West Way campaigners need £15,000 for legal fight – Oxford Mail Fri 30 Jan
  • Future of Botley up for discussion at public meeting – Oxford Mail Mon 19 Jan
  • More time given for West Way response – Oxford Mail Sat 3 Jan
  • There is little time to fight Doric appeal, claim campaigners against West Way development in Botley - Oxford Mail Fri 19 Dec
  • Doric appeals decision – Oxford Mail Thur 18 Dec
  • ‘No place for developer in a proper debate on West Way’ – Oxford Mail Fri 5 Dec
  • The strength of public opinion reflected in the West Way vote – Oxford Mail Thu 4 Dec
  • Delight as West Way plan in Botley is thrown out but disappointed Doric reviewing what happens now – Oxford Mail Thu 4 Dec
  • Doric pledges to replace homes in Botley as planners prepare to consider scheme – Oxford Mail Wed 3 Dec
  • Decision time over radical revamp for Botley’s shopping centre – Oxford Mail Tue 2 Dec
  • West Way campaigners disappointed by approval call – Oxford Mail Sat 29 Nov
  • Planning officer backs West Way revamp scheme – Oxford Times Thur 27 Nov
  • Author adds voice to West Way worries as final plans are tabled – Oxford Mail Tue 25 Nov
  • Doric reveals chains signing up to new West Way centre – Oxford Mail Tue 18 Nov
  • Students are ‘clogging up’ family homes in Oxford, says report – Oxford Mail Tue 18 Nov
  • Developer’s underpass plan a ‘warm, welcoming’ mural – Oxford Mail Sat 15 Nov
  • Botley West Way campaigners blast council plans for ‘out of area’ meeting on scheme – Oxford Mail Tue 11 Nov
  • Residents can take away information they need – Oxford Mail Fri 7 Nov
  • Doric amends project as parish protests at first floor access – Oxford Mail Tue 4 Nov
  • Vale council will debate Doric plans for Botley at meeting in Wantage – Oxford Mail Wed 22 Oct
  • Changes to Local Plan could block student flats in Botley – but not Doric scheme – Oxford Mail & their editorial Tue 21 Oct
  • Hundreds of balloon campaigners form human chain to burst Doric’s Botley dreams – Oxford Mail Mon 13 Oct
  • Council forced to reveal details of development – Oxford Mail Mon 6 Oct
  • Building firms invited to West Way meeting – Oxford Mail Tue 16 Sep
  • How West Way could change if revised scheme approved – Oxford Mail Fri 12 Sep
  • All change?’ – Oxford Mail Thur 11 Sep
  • West Way protesters say plan changes are ‘cobbled together’ – Oxford Mail Wed 10 Sep
  • West Way decision faces further delay – Oxford Mail Wed 20 Aug
  • Walk-through video gives a hi-tech view of centre plans – Oxford Mail Tue 15 July – video at http://botleydistrictcentre.co.uk/botley-animation.html
  • Both sides in West Way development row claim report’s backing – Oxford Mail Mon 7 July
  • Panel backs West Way – Oxford Mail Tue 1 July
  • New West Way development would be ‘visually intrusive’ on Green Belt – Oxford Mail Thurs 26 June
  • Concerns remain over West Way – Oxford Mail Mon 23 June
  • Campaigners hire lawyers to look into West Way project over concerns council is too close to developers – Oxford Mail Fri 20 June
  • Report advocates clearing the path for building of West Way – Oxford Mail Thur 5 June
  • Environmental Assessment announcement on the Doric website Tue 3 June
  • Environmental Impact Assessment published – Oxford Mail Fri 30 May
  • Web petition launched for West Way support – Oxford Mail Wed 28 May
  • Mace join Doric as a Joint Venture Partner – Doric website Sat 17 May
  • Developer signs £100m West Way blueprint – - Oxford Mail Sat 17 May
  • Doric plans spark call for more local powers – Oxford Mail Tue 13 May
  • Parish councillors dismiss ‘poor’ plans for West Way – Oxford Mail Thur 27 Mar
  • Family adamant they won’t part with Elms Parade shops – Oxford Mail Tue 18 Mar
  • Market square is latest plan for £100m West Way revamp – Oxford Mail Sat 8 Mar
  • West Way Shopping centre revamp ‘would mean traffic hell’ – Oxford Mail Sat 1 Mar
  • Campaigners welcome need for environmental assessment of West Way shopping centre plans – Oxford Mail Wed 26 Feb
  • Elms Shopping parade has ‘historic value’ says heritage expert – Oxford Mail Mon 24 Feb
  • Battle lines drawn as £100m West Way plans finally revealed – Oxford Mail Tue 4 Feb
  • Sheltered housing residents in Botley fight threat from West Way development – Oxford Mail Thur 30 Jan
  • Rector fears Botley church could be swallowed up by Doric plan – Oxford Mail Sat 25 Jan
  • Critics still not satisfied as new plans for Botley go in – Oxford Mail Sat 21 Dec
  • Botley District Centre – Oxford Mail Fri 20 Dec
  • City brands West Way plan ‘too large and unjustified’ – Oxford Times Wed 18 Dec
  • West Way petition is 2,000 strong – Oxford Mail Thu 12 Dec
  • Campaigners fighting Botley shopping centre redevelopment set up shop – Oxford Mail Mon 25 Nov
  • Neighbours link up in battle to stop Botley development – Oxford Mail Mon 25 Nov
  • Campaigners form human chain around under-threat shops – Oxford Mail Sat 23 Nov
  • Botley West Way plans the ‘nuclear option’ protest meeting told – Oxford Mail Wed 20 Nov
  • Redeveloping West Way ‘threatens 200 jobs’ – Oxford Mail Tue 19 Nov
  • £2,500 war chest to fight West Way plans – Oxford Mail Mon 18 Nov
  • Madrid, Fulham… Botley – Oxford Mail Tue 12 Nov
  • West Way plans change to allay local concerns – Oxford Times Thur 1 Nov
  • £100m Botley development plan to be scrutinised more closely – Oxford Mail Thur 24 Oct
  • 500 residents fight to halt £100m West Way project – Oxford Mail Tues 22 Oct
  • The local Lib Dems call for the Doric deal to be scrapped.  You can sign their petition on-line.
  • Time to ditch ‘monster’ West Way development – Oxford Times Thurs 10 Oct
  • ‘Huge’ scale of Botley development revealed – Oxford Mail – Fri 20 Sept
  • Details of Botley shopping complex to be revealed – Oxford Mail – Thur 5 Sept
  • Holidays delay grand plans for Botley – Oxford Mail Thur 23 May : Note that that article has a typographical mistake – the next consultation will take place in September (delayed from July as previously announced)
  • Botley residents bid to save shops in West Way development fight – Oxford Mail Thur 23 May
  • Co-op urged to come clean over shops plan – Oxford Mail Mon 20 May
  • Doric has published the survey results which are available on-line
  • West Way Community Concern conducted a survey.  They presented the results at a public meeting on Weds 22 May and they are available on their website.
  • Janet Godden is bewildered over the plans - Oxford Mail 27 March
  • North Hinksey Annual Parish meeting had a presentation of the feedback and discussion – see notes from the WebTeam and the summary of interim results. Cumnor Parish Council Annual Parish Meeting at Cumnor Village Hall, 7.30pm on Tuesday 7th May will aso include a section about the West Way redevelopment plans.
  • There was a Public Consultation on 28 Feb & 2 March which was well attended – Oxford Mail 1 March, although opinion amongst the attendants was divided: Oxford Mail Sat 2 March Feb and Oxford Mail Tue 5 March
  • Traders fear for their livelihoods – Oxford Times Thur 14 Feb
  • Council hopes for larger replacement for Seacourt Hall – Oxford Mail Sat 26 Jan
  • Field House in the picture – Oxford Times Tues 22 Jan
  • Howse family reluctant to sell parade shops – Oxford Times Thurs 17 Jan
  • Call for space for independent shops – Oxford Times Thurs 10 Jan
  • Multi-screen cinema in plans – Oxford Times Wed 9 Jan