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‘John Lewis will give Westgate a real lift’
11:00am Friday 25th October 2013 in News
Residents yesterday said plans to transform the Westgate shopping centre “were long overdue” at a drop-in session focusing on the plans.
People visiting the session in the centre said they were looking forward to shopping in the new 10,000 sq ft John Lewis store.
Two more drop-in sessions will take place today and tomorrow between 10am and 5.30pm. It is the last chance for people to view the outline planning application before a decision is made early next year.
Yesterday, shoppers welcomed proposals to replace the current car park and added that they hoped there would be some new independent shops.
Outline plans for the scheme to redevelop the centre were submitted to Oxford City Council in September.
The proposal has been submitted by the Westgate Oxford Alliance, a joint venture between landowners The Crown Estate and Land Securities Group.
The Westgate Oxford Alliance is planning to include the John Lewis store, as well as cafés, restaurants and shops.
Plans also feature a two-level basement car park of up to 1,100 spaces, a rooftop terrace, a cinema and between 27 and 122 new homes.
Full planning applications have also been submitted for a temporary car park for up to 420 spaces and a coach pick-up and drop-off facility at the existing Oxpens car park off Oxpens Road.
The drop-in session was held yesterday in the Westgate Consultation Shop, opposite The Works.
Andrew Waterman, 41, of Greater Leys, said: “I think the plans are long overdue.
“The Westgate Centre looks scrappy at the moment and providing a new car park is long overdue as well.
“Oxford also needs to have a shop like John Lewis so we don’t have to keep going elsewhere.”
Elsa Munday, who lives near Thame, agreed. She said: “It looks tired in its present form and needs updating and the car park needs to be addressed as well. We need a shop like John Lewis which doesn’t just sell clothes and shoes.”
Janet Sharman, of Trinity Square, said: “I think the new centre will give Oxford a real lift.”
She added that the introduction of some independent shops would “raise the tone” of the centre.
Gerald Brandes, 59, from near Watlington, said: “I think it will be great for Oxford.
“John Lewis will draw a lot of people in.
“I would like to see a mixture of independent and chain stores.”
This is the second consultation which developers have held, with more than 1,200 people taking part in the first one in June. More than 220 feedback forms were received and 71 per cent thought the city centre would benefit from the revamp.
Colin Cook, the city council’s executive member for city development, said: “A decision on the outline planning application is expected to be made early next year, with construction work potentially starting later in the year and the new centre opening by Christmas 2016. This is probably the fifth major plan for the redevelopment of the Westgate Centre since it was built and I look forward to examining the detailed proposals in due course.”
Mr Cook added that he expected a full planning application to be submitted soon after approval of the outline planning application.
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