STUDENT accommodation and national chain stores will be essential if the new West Way scheme is to be viable.

A second attempt at plans to redevelop the Botley shopping centre is set to be made later this year after a £100m scheme was rejected for being too large.

Vale of White Horse District Council has produced a planning policy that will shape the centre’s future and the Oxford Mail can reveal the evidence used to produce it.

It said a community hub and library could only be delivered at the site if profitable uses such as a foodstore and cinema were included.

In its analysis, the local authority categorised community uses as ‘pure cost’, while independent retailers and offices were classed as ‘unviable in isolation’.

Meanwhile, restaurants, student flats and national retailers were seen as viable.

Botley resident Mary Gill, who is part of the campaign group West Way Community Concern, said the needs of the area were being ignored.

She said “It appears to be an attempt to justify having student housing, which is not what Botley needs.

“We still expect the Vale to start from a point of what is right for Botley and not what is right for the developer. They have rejected all the scenarios that don’t include a large number of student rooms.”

Plans are expected to be put forward by Mace later this year after its joint scheme with Doric was rejected in December 2014.

Before the £100m plan was rejected by the Vale’s planning committee, both Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University said they did not have a need to house students in Botley.

Dr Gill said without evidence that students will come to the area it could not even be considered viable.

The report also put forward four scenarios before choosing one as the preferred option, which included more than 400 student rooms, a hotel, a foodstore and multiplex cinema.

Botley councillor Debby Hallett said she understood the scheme had to be commercially viable but said other alternatives should have been presented.

She said: “West Way Community Concern and everyone else have worked so hard in getting the people of Botley’s views heard.

“But the problem is that the Vale really wants this to happen.

“The document seems to basically ensure that the failed Doric scheme would now work as part of its policy.”

The Vale’s head of planning Mike Murray said the report merely highlighted a balance needed to be found. He said: “This is an evidence based document, and relates to viability. It doesn’t affect the ability of people to make comments on the SPD, but provides information as to the relative viability of differing uses to deliver a positive or negative land value."

“This helps inform the need to balance desire for low value uses with the need for high value uses to support them.”

The amended planning policy – taking into account public consultation – will go before the scrutiny committee on October 22 before a cabinet decision at the end of the month.