A ROW has broken out between opponents and supporters of the West Way redevelopment scheme over a report published by an influential architecture body.

Both sides have claimed it backs up their arguments about the controversial £100m project planned for Botley, which would see the current shopping centre flattened and replaced with a new, larger complex.

The report was commisioned by the Vale of the White Horse District Council.

In it, the South East Regional Design Panel, which is made up of 26 industry experts in planning and architecture, said in a summary of the scheme: “The local centre at Botley is faded and seemingly no longer meets the needs of the community. Redevelopment offers the prospect of a better retail offer, improved connections with the surrounding area and better community facilities.

“The main planning moves in the layout are supported... [but] the full potential of West Way has yet to be met.”

More needed to be done to make the designs fit in with the Botley area, the inspectors added.

Developer Doric Properties was the first to claim victory, in a statement which said the report was “a positive overall assessment”.

The firm added: “[It] recommended some detailed changes. Doric is addressing this feedback as part of a design review.”

But campaigners of West Way Concern responded angrily to the comments and said the report supported many of their views instead.


Chris Church.

Co-chairman Chris Church said: “The idea that it gave the go-ahead which is what Doric’s press release claims is not the case.

“There were some serious issues raised by the design panel, we were glad to see they have concerns about Elms Parade. The report certainly raised a lot of concerns.”

Doric joint owner Simon Hillcox said: “Doric Properties believes the report shows considerable support from the panel, in particular for the principle of the development.

“We believe that most people will reach the same conclusion as us and welcome them to read the summary for themselves.”

But there were also claims by Vale of the White Horse district councillor for North Hinksey and Wytham, Debby Hallett, that she had been misrepresented by Doric, which in its statement said she had been present for site inspections.

In a post on social networking website Facebook, she said: “They implied the Design Panel Report thought their design was good, and that I agreed with it. Not true. They implied I participated in the Design Panel.”

Doric later confirmed it had updated its press release.

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