THE developers behind the £100m rebuilding of the West Way shopping centre have ditched plans to keep the local vicarage.

Originally Doric Properties was planning to demolish the Botley vicarage and rebuild a new one elsewhere on the site.

But its new plans sees a proposal to build ‘age-restricted’ accommodation where the vicarage was previously planned to move to.

It has promised it would try to help to find a new site elsewhere off the site.


Rector of Osney the Rev Clare Sykes

Campaign group West Way Community Concern said Doric had ignored local concerns and made only minor changes to the plans released this week.

The new vicarage for Rector of Osney the Rev Clare Sykes and her family was to be 150 metres away from their current home beside St Peter and St Paul Church in Botley Road.

The amended plans contain an increase in “age-restricted accommodation”, replacing Field House, from 33-50 flats in place of the previously proposed new vicarage.

Doric wants to demolish West Way shopping centre, Elms Parade shops, Field House sheltered housing and the Elms Court office block to build a supermarket, cinema, gym, health centre, shops, 50 flats and 525 student rooms.

Mrs Sykes, who lives in the existing vicarage with her two daughters and husband, may have to relocate further afield if the plans win approval.

She said: “If these plans are successful I’m not going to be living in this house where I’m very settled.

“From a personal point of view it’s the uncertainty, the upheaval and the financial costs of having to move that’s the issue for me.

“A vicarage, because it’s a semi-public building, has to be accessible to people because that’s what I’m here for. It’s my home but only while I’m living it, it’s been to home to all the vicars before me and the people of this place have a stake in it too.”

West Way Community Concern co-chairman Chris Church said: “A vicarage should most certainly be next to the church that’s where people expect it to be, finding a new home for it halfway up the hill is not acceptable.”

“The only reason to demolish the vicarage is to give them access to the field house land which we don’t support at all.”

A letter from Doric to the Diocese said: “Should the application be approved, Doric will use their reasonable endeavours to secure suitable alternative accommodation within the parish area.”

David Mason, of the Diocese of Oxford, said: “We are working with Mace and Doric to find a suitable replacement vicarage as close as possible to St Peter and St Paul’s Church.”

Vale of White Horse District Council will consider the scheme.

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