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Car park and lap dance club may have to go in mall revamp
Buy this photo » Surveyor Gerry Quail, of Loy Surveys, works at Oxpens car park
A LAP dancing club and toilet block could be demolished to make room for a temporary car park while Oxford’s Westgate shopping centre is redeveloped.
Oxford City Council has unveiled plans to create up to 359 new spaces on land it owns next to the ice rink at Oxpens while the development goes ahead between 2015 and 2017.
But the authority has admitted that toilets in the existing Oxpens coach park and a building currently The Lodge Gentleman’s Club, Oxford’s only lap dancing club, will have to go.
Club owner Al Thompson said he had been aware of the plans for some time.
He said: “I’ve been in Oxford all my life, and they’ve always been talking about redeveloping the Westgate Centre.
“We always knew our premises was on a short lease and that it would eventually be redeveloped, so we have no real problem with that.
“We will have to wait and see if it actually comes to fruition and if it does we will look at relocating.”
The revelation comes in the middle of a stalemate between The Lodge and the city council, which rejected an application to renew the venue’s licence last August.
A judicial review against the decision failed, but Mr Thompson won permission from the Court of Appeal to take it to court again, and The Lodge remains open.
But the licence snub wasn’t the first time the Lodge has had to fight for its existence.
It only ended up trading in Oxpens in the first place after being forced from its St Ebbes premises in August 2011 following protests from the neighbouring church.
Mr Thompson said: “We are absolutely keen on staying in Oxford. We’ve moved once, and we’ll move again.”
Under the council’s plans, the existing 1,090 spaces at Westgate will be replaced with a temporary car park at Oxpens providing 250 spaces, with an option for a deck above it with 109 spaces.
The existing coach parking will be moved to the Redbridge park and ride off Botley Road, where 35 spaces will be created, leading to a loss of 259 of the existing 1,470 car spaces at the site.
The cost of the project could range from £2.7m, if no decking or coach drop-off service at Oxpens are considered, to £3.8m if both are factored in.
Cash for the project is expected to come from a pot of £3.3m, which was put aside by the council from an underspend on its revenue budget for 2012/13. Council deputy leader Ed Turner said: “Westgate will be good for Oxford in many ways and one will be the replacement of the car park, which doesn’t have much life left in it.”
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