NEW designs for the £400m Westgate Shopping Centre have been released today by the developers behind the scheme.

It starts the final phase of public consultation, which will run until Monday and follows an exhibition in April.

The Oxford Mail can reveal new aspects of the scheme, including the facade of the planned John Lewis department store, set to be built on land currently occupied by part of Norfolk Road, and a multi-storey car-park.

An extra bicycle parking facility is also set to be added near to Turn Again Lane, close to an already-planned “cycle hub”.

And more shops are to be included on the side of the shopping centre facing Thames Street.

Under the revised plans there would be 70 new shops, a rooftop terrace and a two-storey basement car park with about 1,000 spaces. And up to 120 homes will be included, as well as a pedestrian route linking the site with Oxford Castle Quarter.

If approved, building work could start early next year.

Westgate Oxford Alliance development manager Sara Fuge said: “We had a very positive response to our consultation on the emerging designs in April and have spent the last few months progressing these ideas.

“We are now very excited to share the final detailed designs and I hope lots of people can find the time to take a look at them.”

The developer, which was formed by the Crown Estate and Land Securities, has hired five architectural firms and one landscaping firm to work on the plans.

They are said to have taken inspiration from Oxford’s famous college buildings, with two of the firms involved in designing of the Oxford Castle Quarter and the Said Business School, respectively.


Sara Fuge

The scheme received outline planning permission from Oxford City Council in March, which approved the development in principle, and the developer will approach the council next month for the final approval needed for the designs.

But concerns still remain about what effect the scheme will have on the city’s public transport system.

Oxford Civic Society chairman Peter Thompson said: “Our biggest concern remains the means by which the anticipated 25 per cent increase in visitor numbers will travel to the city centre.

“So there is going to be an enormous amount of buses on Castle Street and we find it difficult to seehowthat will also work well with cyclists wanting to use the roads.”

Shoppers and businesses around the shopping complex were yesterday positive about the plans.

Pembroke College student Joe Fowles, 20 said: “It would be really good to see some better shops in Oxford. I’m all in favour of this scheme if it improves the current situation.”

And Fabiana Oliveir, manager of Art Cafe Oxford, said the redevelopment could bring him new customers.

He said: “The new designs are gorgeous, it really looks like it will be a big revamp.

This is what Oxford needs, though I wish they wouldn’t take so long.”

If the plans gain approval, the council said work could start by early next year.

The public exhibition runs from 10am to 5.30pm today, tomorrow, Saturday and Monday, in the Westgate Oxford Alliance unit, opposite The Works Shop, in the Westgate Centre.

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