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£400m Westgate plans 'bad for heritage', says city trust
OXFORD Preservation Trust has criticised the developers behind the Westgate scheme and is “extremely disappointed” by the proposals.
In a letter to Oxford City Council, trust director Debbie Dance said that key details are missing from the plans. She has urged the city council to veto the scheme as there is not “sufficient detail or certainty” and aspects are against policies on height and heritage.
The Westgate Alliance has submitted outline plans for the £400m redevelopment which will include a 10,000sq ft John Lewis store, as well as cafés, shops, restaurants and a cinema.
But the trust says this outline approach lacks key details.
Ms Dance writes: “We have met with the applicants in a spirit of co-operation, ready to engage and have an open dialogue.
“We are therefore extremely disappointed with the application that has come forward.
“The applicants have told us this outline approach is usual, even in an historic city of the importance of Oxford.
“They state they need this level of flexibility as they do not yet know who the tenants will be other than John Lewis.”
Ms Dance says there are no details on mass of the buildings, no dimensions and only indicative plans for where streets and public squares might go.
The plans were put in last September. A decision is expected early next year.
Construction could begin later in the year with the new centre opening in 2017 – creating thousands of jobs.
The developers have defended their approach.
Sara Fuge, of the Westgate Alliance, said: “Outline applications are preferred for major applications. “It allows the developer to find out at an early stage whether a proposal is in principle acceptable.
“This allows the city council to control the scheme and allows the design to respond to changes in requirements from retailers.
“Westgate Alliance is conscious of the historical importance of Oxford city.”
Oxford City Council refused to comment.
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