PLANS to redevelop the West Way shopping centre in Botley have been described as “nuclear” by an agent working for the Co-op.

Steven Sensecall was addressing a meeting of action group West Way Community Concern at St Peter and St Paul Church on Monday night. Mr Sensecall, of Botley-based property consultants Kemp and Kemp, said: “The proposals which talk about the total redevelopment of Elms Parade and the West Way are wholly inappropriate.

“I think everyone would agree that this centre is in need of refurbishment, but that is a long way from complete and utter redevelopment.

“There is a site there that clearly is capable of accommodating a new retail site but what the Co-op is talking about is a site of 14,000sq ft while Doric is proposing a store of 50,000sq ft which in the Co-op’s view is completely inappropriate.”

He said it would be better to give the centre a ‘new lease of life’ rather than taking a ‘nuclear approach’.

Earlier this year the Co-op, which has an 8,000sq ft supermarket in the West Way, admitted it would be countering Doric Properties’ £100m plans to build a new cinema and shopping centre but has not yet revealed what they are.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of Oxford Preservation Trust and the Howse family, which owns the historic Elms Parade, as well as around 200 members of the public.

Development company Doric Properties wants to demolish Elms Parade to make way for a large superstore, a piazza, multi-screen cinema, underground car park and 600 student rooms.

Chris Church, of WWCC, said: “We have got two problems. The first one is money. “This is about overdevelopment for reasons of money. The other problem is the secret contract between Doric and Vale of the White Horse District Council. “What are they scared about us knowing?”

David Tompkins, who has run an estate agency in West Way for 15 years, said: “Doric’s proposal is out of character with the area.

“Most shops would agree the shopping centre is dated and tired but I would rather see refurbishment than major redevelopment.”

In January this year Doric signed an agreement with the district council to purchase the land.

A planning application is due to be submitted to Vale of the White Horse District Council next month.

A council spokesman said there was ‘no secret deal’ but added: “As with all commercial developments there is a need for details to be classified as exempt (from public release) for reasons of commercial sensitivity surrounding not only current but future negotiations. “Disclosure of this information could significantly affect the project.”

Simon Hillcox, of Doric, said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in the future of Botley. “We can provide vastly improved space for a much bigger library, bigger and better community hall and introduce a medical facility, cinema and restaurants.”

Consultation on the plans has now closed.