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Parish councillors dismiss ‘poor’ plans for West Way
CONTROVERSIAL plans for a £100m overhaul of Botley's shopping centre have been roundly rejected by parish councillors as badly designed and a threat to infrastructure.
Campaigners last night welcomed the decision taken by North Hinksey Parish Council on Tuesday evening.
The final decision on the plans now rests with the Vale of White Horse District Council as a six-week consulation ends today.
Developer Doric wants to demolish Elms Parade and West Way shopping areas to make way for a large superstore, a piazza, multi-screen cinema, car park and more than 500 student rooms in the revamp.
Elms Court office block would also go under the move.
A formal objection is being lodged following Tuesday’s two-hour planning committee meeting at Seacourt Hall – which would be bulldozed under the plans.
About 30 people joined the special parish council meeting to hear councillors raise concerns the development would be out of character with the area, create more traffic and parking problems, and strain infrastructure.
Committee chairman Andrew Pritchard said: “North Hinksey Parish Council planning committee acknowledges the need for updating and in some cases replacing buildings in this area, and welcomes proportionate proposals to achieve improvements that will benefit those who live and work in the area.
“However we feel the proposals put forward by Doric Properties are overall out of proportion and will have a detrimental effect on the character of the area and add to existing traffic problems.”
Parish councillor Julia Hammett said: “There was an accident on the A34 on Tuesday and Botley Road was gridlocked again.
“They are encouraging car use where we have a major problem.”
And she said the retail development could endanger local businesses, adding: “I think we would lose our small shops.”
She also said it was “unacceptable” an environmental assessment had not been carried out.
Fears were also raised about the impact of an influx of students.
Mr Pritchard added: “There is an opportunity to do something exciting but not this. It seems to me this is a rather poor design.”
The bid also includes offices, a hotel, a health centre, and a gym.
The library, Baptist Church and vicarage would be replaced.
Just five members of the council were sitting on the planning committee following the resignation of three councillors last month.
West Way Community Concern campaign leader Chris Church welcomed the decision.
He said: “We are delighted that after months of discussion our parish council has finally agreed to object.
“Given at the last count there are close to 500 other objections it is entirely appropriate the parish council should recognise this.”
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