CAMPAIGNERS have warned the vision set out for the West Way shopping centre could lead to “another Doric”.

The document, designed to shape future development at the site in Botley, does not rule out the demolition of Elms Parade and also permits student accommodation and a cinema.

And the guidelines, produced by design firm BDP on behalf of Vale of White Horse District Council, state that some buildings in the site could be up to eight storeys high.

The planning policy, known as the Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), will be used to decide any future proposals for the area and is open for public consultation until September 25. Uses permitted also include a hotel, office space and affordable housing as well as food shops, a community centre and a library.

Botley resident Mary Gill, who fought a two-year battle with Vale council to release information on the failed scheme, said it could lead to history repeating itself.

She said: “When you pull out all the things that could be allowed and the fact that it could be up to eight storeys and extend to Field House and the vicarage, then you have got another Doric.

“The possible uses include student accommodation and a cinema – both things the community feels there is no need for.

“Mace could put something forward and then extend it – that would be my worst fear from this.”

The retired engineer said that the proposed policy’s ambiguity was a worry but that the presence of students was inevitable.

She said: “It seems to suggest students in Botley are a good thing.

“From my reading of it there almost certainly will be students in the development.”

In December last year the Vale council’s planning committee rejected a £100m scheme to demolish Elms Parade and Field House sheltered housing in favour of a supermarket, hotel, gym, six-screen cinema, 50 flats and 525 student rooms.

Doric and Mace withdrew the appeal and the latter took on the project, promising a scaled-back scheme.

Vale council commissioned BDP to produce guidelines and address issues leading to the plans’ failure. West Way Community Concern chairman Chris Church said the guidelines could have been worse but said the group would fight for definitive limits to be put in place.

He said: “We don’t want a document that gives the go-ahead for a Doric mark two. We want to see the Vale make it clearer that there should be limits to this – rather than referring to eight storeys here, five storeys there.”

Mr Church said there were some differences between Mace’s promises and the planning document – namely the uncertainty over the future of Elms Parade.

He said: “This policy has got to last for at least ten years. We don’t want to have to fight the same battles again and again.”

The Botley resident said there were some positives to take from the document and that a repeat of Doric seemed unlikely.

He said: “There is material in there we can use to fight for an appropriate development. The wording says the development should not create large or overbearing single volumes, which is what Doric was, and there is a lot of mention of public spaces.”

Mace re-affirmed its promise to retain Elms Parade when asked by the Oxford Mail following the SPD’s publication.

Director Huw Griffiths said: “Mace welcome the publication of the SPD, are in the process of reviewing the content and will then submit their comments on the SPD in line with the consultation timescales. Mace can confirm that it intends to retain Elms Parade as part of its forthcoming redevelopment proposal.”

Deputy council leader Roger Cox said: “I understand people’s concerns and we are setting out formal parameters for redevelopment.”

MP Nicola Blackwood spoke against the failed £100m plans at a planning committee meeting in December. The Oxford West and Abingdon MP said: “Any future proposal for West Way must represent a truly local vision for Botley that lives up to its unique character. “It is up to the Vale council and Mace to work with community groups like West Way Community Concern to make this a reality.”

Despite several attempts to contact Vale leader Matthew Barber we were unable to get hold of him.

Developer Mace is expected to present plans to the public in October before submitting a formal application.

* To view and comment on the SPD go to