FUNDING should be given by the Westgate developers towards expanding Oxford’s park-and-ride system, the county council has said.
The authority has come up with a number of conditions that the group behind the £400m redevelopment of the shopping centre should fulfil – including a list of projects it wants funded.
It has outlined its response to the development, which is proposed by the Westgate Alliance, and has looked at the impact the scheme will have on traffic, education and its Central Library.
While the county council has no objections to the scheme, it has drawn up a list of conditions and projects it wants to see funded.
It would like to see funding towards a bridge across the River Thames at Oxpens, the redevelopment of Frideswide Square and a freight consolidation network.
This would see lorries dropping off their goods at a special park and ride facility outside the city.
A report, to be submitted to the council’s cabinet on Wednesday, says it is satisfied that the additional traffic can be “accommodated by the proposed highway layout and the wider road network.
But the report says that Community Infrastructure Levy funds may be sought for improvements to roads and junctions affected by the development, including Frideswide Square and its approaches.
Community Infrastructure Levy – or CIL – is a new system which Oxford City Council uses to make developers pay towards the impact of their schemes on the surrounding area.
It is calculated based on the size of the development, with retail schemes like Westgate paying £100 per square metre.
The county council has said the nearby primary and secondary schools – St Ebbes and Cherwell – will have to be expanded as a result of the housing which is included in the scheme.
Through CIL the county council is also asking the developers to contribute towards the acquisition of land and construction costs of a new school in Bertie Place.
Daniel Round, the council’s locality manager for Oxford, said: “While these responses raise a number of technical issues, these are identified in the context that officers recognise that redevelopment of the Westgate centre would act as a catalyst for regeneration of Oxford city centre.
“This would reverse the trend of losing shoppers to centres such as Reading, Swindon and Milton Keynes.
“The Westgate redevelopment, which could generate up to 3,400 full-time equivalent jobs, would also provide Oxford with the opportunity to compete with heritage cities such as Bath, Cambridge, York and Exeter, by providing an historic built environment, cultural facilities and excellent retail.”
Chairman of the Oxford Civic Society Peter Thompson said: “We think it’s premature for the city council to be considering the application in the absence of a transport strategy. In principle, the society is in favour of the new centre and we really want it to be a success.”
But he said the traffic issues needed to be extensively looked at.
Once completed, the shopping centre will have a new underground car park with 1,100 places, a department store and cinema and 72,000 square metres of new retail space.
A decision on the Westgate planning application will be made on March 11.
A final figure for how much the developers will have to pay will be agreed at the meeting.
If approval is given, the centre is expected to open in 2017.
WHAT’S ON THE COUNTY COUNCIl’S WISH LIST
- Funding towards expansion of Oxford’s park-and-ride system
- Money towards a bridge over the River Thames at Oxpens
- Funding towards the redevelopment of Frideswide Square
- Funding for a freight consolidation network which would see lorries dropping off their goods at a special park and ride outside the city
- Expansion of the nearby primary and secondary schools – St Ebbes and Cherwell.