TOO many elderly people came forward to express worries over plans for West Way, Vale of White Horse District Council said.

The local authority said those aged over 60 were “over-represented” in its consultation on its planning policy that will shape the future of the shopping centre and surrounding area.

Committee papers found a “vocal minority of older residents” in the consultation, as they made up about half of the 350 people who responded.

Chairman of campaign group West Way Community Concern, Chris Church, said: “It seems to dismiss the concerns because they are coming from older people.

“Older people are those who have chosen to settle here and expect to spend the rest of their lives here.

“It is their right that they should be able to comment.”

He added: “Of course they should explain the demographic in the report but I don’t like the ‘vocal minority’ phrase.”

The Vale’s summary said the things most respondents disagreed with were the inclusion of Field House sheltered housing and St Peter and St Paul Church in the policy, which meant it could see them vulnerable to future developers eyeing the site.

They also were concerned about the hotel, cinema and student housing.

These were taken on board but the council stuck by its decision to permit student housing in order for community buildings to be viable. It also justified the inclusion of a hotel and cinema as suitable uses of the site.

Focus groups of young people were organised for the process but Botley Councillor Emily Smith said more should have been done to get them involved.

She said: “The council struggled to get groups of younger people together because the bulk of the consultation period clashed with the school summer holidays.

“They did squeeze a few groups in at the end, but if this had been planned earlier more could have been done and the number of meaningful responses from young people could have been higher.

She added: “When you look at the consultation the groups of young people were saying very similar things to what the older people were saying anyway.”

Vale of White Horse District Council’s scrutiny committee resolved to support the inclusion of sheltered housing in a new centre and also asked the cabinet to consider the lawfulness of the supplementary planning document (SPD).

A decision will be made on the document on Friday and developer Mace is expected to put forward new plans by the end of the year.

A Vale spokesman said: “In the five-week consultation on the Botley SPD we held 10 local engagement events to ensure that the views of people across the community were taken into account.”

The policy was scrutinised last week and will go before the Vale’s cabinet on Friday.