A NEW community market could be launched in West Way if a planned £100m rebuild goes ahead.
An organiser of farmers’ markets in Headington and Summertown has said he would not start up a market in West Way as it is now.
But he said he could if the planned redevelopment in Botley goes ahead.
The backing for the plan, which would see the markets held in a new community square, is a boost for the developers after about 2,000 people signed a petition opposing the scheme.
And it comes as leaders at Botley Baptist Church, which will also be rebuilt, threw their weight behind the West Way scheme.
Jack McLeod has managed Headington Farmers’ Market since 2011. He said the planned new community square – dubbed a piazza by the developers – is very attractive to his market traders.
He said: “I think that this is a great idea and I would welcome the opportunity to hold a market in the new square.
“I have looked at the existing Botley shopping centre and see no area where a reasonably-sized market could fit without shutting one of the car parks, cutting off trade to existing businesses.
“The square at the heart of the proposals would provide an ideal central location for our traders, some of whom have seen the plans and expressed an interest in coming when the development is open.”
Developer Doric Properties has submitted a planning application for the scheme to Vale of White Horse District Council to bulldoze the existing shopping centre, Elms Parade and the Field House sheltered housing.
It would build a new shopping centre, 33 flats, 525 student rooms, a gym, hotel, cinema, a new medical centre, Baptist church, community hall and community square.
Botley Baptist Church secretary Ted Beaver has backed the plans, and said: “We welcome the Vale’s vision and commitment to redevelop Botley’s tired and jaded shopping precinct and support Doric’s plans to build a modern shopping centre which appropriately provides for the needs of the next generation.
Chris Church, co-chairman of opponents West Way Community Concern, said: “There is nothing to prevent a farmers’ market being held here now. There is ample space in the existing precinct, compared to some of the other farmers’ market sites around Oxford.”
Simon Hillcox, co-founder of Doric Properties, said: “We’re really proud of the new community hub we hope to create as part of our proposals. Many of the facilities in Botley are coming to the end of their useful lives.”