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Family's refusal to sell parade threatens Botley cinema plan
Buy this photo » Arthur Howse, Robert Howse and Caroline Kellner
A FAMILY has told developers planning a new Botley cinema and shopping complex they won’t sell them their shopping parade.
Doric Properties still hope Elms Parade will form part of a new multi-million redevelopment of the West Way shopping centre. But the parade remains in the hands of the Howse family, descendants of local farmer Stephen Howse, who built it in 1937. And last night the family made it clear that they are in no rush to sell.
One of the trustees, Arthur Howse, 75, said two meetings had taken place with the developers. “At the first meeting they wanted to know if we were interested in selling and I told them we were not,” he explained.
When an offer was subsequently made, Mr Howse said he remained unimpressed and turned it down.
The grandson of Stephen Howse, added: “If they came along with a with a substantially improved offer I would put it to the family. But it might still get turned down. They could do something around us but they believe it would be better if they took our site as well. Our site is key to the whole retail area because it faces out on to the main road.”
Doric last week revealed that a cinema and new supermarket would be the centre-pieces of a multi-million scheme that will see the existing 1960s West Way shopping centre demolished.
Doric has reached an agreement with Vale of the White Horse District Council and a consortium to buy most of the site. It wants to demolish the Botley Library, Botley Baptist Church and the Seacourt Hall along with other buildings. It intends to build new shops, a new church and community hall. A cinema with four to six screens and possibly a restaurant are also proposed.
The company made clear it has not given up acquiring Elms Parade, made up of 14 shops, seven flats and four garages. The Howse family also own the car parking areas in front of and behind the parade.
Doric spokesman Julian Seymour said: “Doric has held initial meetings with a number of stakeholders across the site and is expected to hold many more in the next few weeks now that the agreements on the other parcels of land are complete.
“We will be arranging further stakeholder meetings in the coming weeks, and will be holding an exhibition for the community around the end of February.”
Doric say it would take up to 18 months to construct the new shopping centre, which would also include some student accommodation.
The size and position of the shops and new supermarket are still to be decided upon.
A planning application is expected to be submitted to Vale of White Horse District Council later this year.
Doric said no decision had been taken on whether Elms Parade would be retained, revamped or demolished if it did buy them.
A plaque near the post office commemorates Stephen Howse, who died in 1941.
When the shops built on farmland, took their first deliveries in 1937, goods rolled up in a horse and cart.