GOVERNMENT ministers have 21 days to intervene on the Westgate redevelopment.

Because the proposals fall outside Oxford City Council’s development plan, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, must be given three weeks to decide whether he wants to call the planning application in.

Outline proposals for the redevelopment were given planning permission by the city council on Tuesday.

City councillor Colin Cook, the executive board member for city development, said: “We have a plan which says this is the city centre area where we want to see some more retail and the development extends into the Abbey Place car park more than we thought it might, which means it is technically outside that area.

“This means it is classed as a departure from our development plan and has to be referred to the Secretary of State.”

Developers the Westgate Alliance are hoping to open the new £400m shopping centre in 2017.

It would have a 110,000 sq ft John Lewis store as well as shops, cafes, restaurants and a cinema.

A previous attempt to redevelop the shopping centre was referred to then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in 1999 and was thrown out because of heritage concerns.

But Mr Cook said this time he was “optimistic” the Government would back the scheme.