A PLANNING application to redevelop Oxford’s Westgate shopping centre is expected in the new year, according to city councillor Colin Cook.

Members of the West End Partnership have been given a briefing by the Land Securities Group and the Crown Estate, who are planning to redevelop the centre.

City council officers hope the planning process will be completed next year, with building work starting in 2014.

The £330m redevelopment could then be completed in time for shops to open in 2017, including a John Lewis department store.

Sara Fuge, from Land Securities, addressed the partnership in Oxford last week.

Following the meeting Michael Crofton-Briggs, head of city development, told executive member for city development Mr Cook that negotiations were progressing well.

Mr Crofton-Briggs said in an email to Mr Cook: “Ms Fuge said negotiations with the anchor tenant, John Lewis Partners, and land owner the city council were progressing well and it was now simply a matter of completing and signing the legal documentation.

“In the meantime, there had been initial planning and transport meetings jointly with city and county council officers.

“However, work would not start to prepare the outline planning application until the Westgate Oxford Alliance Board gave authority to do so, which is now anticipated in November.”

Executive member for city development Mr Cook told the Oxford Mail: “If an outline application is submitted early in the new year then I think the developers can stick to the current timetable.

“The developers have been cautious by spending a lot of time researching what retail outlets they want to go into the Westgate Centre.

“I hope there will be a planning application made in the new year or by the spring, and I do think this scheme is a goer.”

Westgate Alliance spokesman Gary Pleasance said: “The alliance is currently finalising the legal agreements in relation to the redevelopment.

“We expect to announce more details on the next steps for the public consultation and planning before the end of the year.”

Graham Jones, a spokesman for Oxford-based traders’ group Rox, said: “I think it’s positive that these discussions are taking place.

“It has taken a long time to get to this stage and when plans do come forward they must be good for retail and good for Oxford.”