THE family that owns a parade of shops that could be flattened to make way for a £100m redevelopment in Botley say they are determined not to part with the site.

Elms Parade owners the Howse family again told the Oxford Mail yesterday they are determined to oppose any attempt to force them to sell.

They own the 13 shops and seven flats which make up Elms Parade – which is at the heart of the planned £100m redevelopment of the West Way shopping centre.

Developer Doric Properties has submitted a planning application for the scheme to Vale of White Horse District Council.

In their first interview since the plans were announced last year, the three trustees of the Howse family estate said they stand together in their decision.


Stephen Howse

Cousins Bob Howse, 81, of Farmoor, Arthur Howse, 76, from Charlbury, and Caroline Kellner, 62, who lives in Northamptonshire, are all grandchildren of Stephen Howse – who built Elms Parade in 1937.

After homes were built in Botley on the neighbouring land, Stephen Howse decided the residents needed local shops and built the parade.

Mrs Kellner said: “It’s so sad, what they want to do. It is very close to all of our hearts, because grandad built it for the community.”

Arthur Howse said: “It was my playground growing up. I don’t want to see it ruined.”

Across a total of 1,000 acres in Botley and North Hinksey, Stephen Howse, who died in 1941, ran Elms Farm, Seacourt Farm, and Hutchcomb Farm – which supplied fresh milk to most of Oxford.


Elms Parade in 1959

Part of Elms Farm is now the site of the 1960s West Way shopping centre. The farmhouse was bought through a compulsory purchase order and demolished in the ’60s to make way for the current Elms Court office blocks and Seacourt Hall – which are also set to be pulled down. His land in Farmoor was also bought through compulsory purchase in the 1950s and flooded to form Farmoor Reservoir.


November’s protest when residents ringed the parade and Botley shops

Mrs Kellner said: “The possibility of a compulsory purchase order is something we think about.

“That is the final thing that could happen. It is a concern.”

Arthur Howse added: “We would fight a compulsory purchase order.”

Doric co-director Simon Hillcox said: “Doric will continue to use all reasonable endeavours to negotiate with relevant parties by private treaty wherever possible, with local occupiers encouraged to come back into the revitalised scheme.

“However, the council may decide to use their statutory powers to bring about the regeneration of Botley with new shops, restaurants and community facilities, creating up to 1,000 jobs.”

A public consultation is taking place and residents have until Thursday, March 27, to have their say. A special planning meeting of North Hinksey Parish Council will discuss the proposals on Tuesday, March 25. The Seacourt Hall meeting is set to start at 7.45pm.

Archive: West Way redevelopment