Campaigners welcome need for environmental assessment of West Way shopping centre plans

West Way Community Concern co-chairman Chris Church

West Way Community Concern co-chairman Chris Church

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by

A STUDY to assess the impact the planned new £100m West Way shopping centre could have on Botley is to be drawn up.

Vale of White Horse District Council ruled last week that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was required before the plans could be considered.

If successful, the proposals would lead to the demolition of the shopping centre and Elms Parade to make way for a supermarket, cinema, health centre, gym, shops, 33 flats and 525 student rooms.

A new library, community hall and church would also be built as part of the proposed development.

The EIA, which covers a range of information including flood risk investigations, will have to be submitted to the council by developers Doric and will be included in the plans to be considered by councillors.

It is not expected to delay the planning application which is in a period of public consultation until March 27. The target decision date for the project is May 1.

Campaigners have so far raised more than £6,000 to be used on expert planning advice and, if required, possible legal advice in future.

West Way Community Concern co-chairman Chris Church said: “This is a victory for local campaigners and for good sense.

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“Doric’s claim that this proposal to turn our local centre into an out-of-town shopping development would have no significant environmental impact on our neighbourhood shows just how little they care about the area.

“We will wait with interest to see how far the environmental assessment is done to a proper standard.”

Co-owner of Doric Properties, Simon Hillcox, said: “We’re obviously disappointed that an EIA is now required at this late stage, but we have been in contact with many of the statutory and non-statutory consultees already and don’t believe that it will throw up any issues which we have not already addressed.”

He added: “Our proposals are hugely beneficial for Botley.

“We’re planning to replace the existing dilapidated shopping and office buildings with brand new shops, restaurants, community facilities, offices and a hotel with a £100m investment which is expected to create up to 1,000 new jobs.”

Over the past week households across West Oxford have been leafleted by campaigners, who are holding a public meeting at St Peter and St Paul Church in West Way from 7pm tomorrow.

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