When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Waitrose gets approval to open its new Botley store
A WAITROSE store for Oxford’s Botley Road was given the go-ahead last night by city councillors.
The West Area planning committee pushed through proposals for the 24,500sq ft store by five votes to two.
It will provide 150 parking spaces and is expected to create 160 new jobs.
A condition on the plan was passed, also five-two, for a pedestrian crossing to be installed by Oxfordshire County Council but paid for by Waitrose near the entrance of the store before it is occupied.
Chairman Oscar Van Nooijen said he was “uncomfortable” with the way traffic concerns had been addressed.
Oxford City Council’s planning officers had recommended the approval, but warned it could worsen severe traffic problems in the area as new shoppers visited the store.
In a report, planning officer Matthew Parry said: “The development will only worsen [traffic problems] by not only increasing the number of journeys along the road itself, but also by causing congestion in the area immediately around the site access points.
“There is also likely to be additional conflict between highway users, including drivers attempting to access and leave the store, as well as cyclists and pedestrians crossing over access points when travelling between the city centre and Botley.”
The plans, for the former Halfords store, drew 36 responses from local residents, mostly in favour.
But cycling group BikeSafe, which represents cyclists commuting from Witney, Eynsham and Farmoor into Oxford via Botley, raised concerns.
Chairman Ian Legett said existing cycle paths in Botley Road would no longer be fit for purpose.
He said: “Previously when a Halfords was there it was not very busy. This will be much busier and I think a lot more cyclists and cars will end up using the route.”
Currently, the stretch of pavement outside the site has marked lanes to separate pedestrians and cyclists, but Mr Legett said that, as with other areas further west on the road, there should be separated paths for each.
He added: “There is plenty of room to do it and it would reduce the problem significantly. You need some kind of precaution or there could be an accident with so many walkers, cyclists and cars going in and out.”
Vale of White Horse District Council objected to the proposals, claiming that the Waitrose store is better suited to the proposed West Way development at the west end of Botley Road, which lies inside its boundaries.
It also claims that the supermarket’s test retail assessment did not properly gauge the impact on existing Botley food sellers.
Lois Muddiman, 49, a mother of two, of Harley Road, opposite the proposed store, said: “I do not feel that our concerns were addressed.
“There is a very serious risk of conflict between cyclists, pedestrians and cars, even though the lane has been brought behind exiting cars.
“Even if cyclists have priority, as stated, I do not think cars will follow that rule.”
Waitrose, whose only other Oxford store is in Headington, hopes to open the new store next year.
James Armstrong, Waitrose spokesman at the meeting, said: “We are very pleased with the outcome, but we will have to go away and review the condition.”
Comments are closed on this article.