A CONTROVERSIAL planning document for Botley’s West Way site is one step closer to being adopted after councillors recommended it for approval.

The Strategic Planning Document (SPD) sets out guidelines and limits for any future development at the site and allows uses such as a hotel, cinema and student housing.

Some Botley residents were left disappointed on Thursday night when Vale of White Horse District Council’s scrutiny committee decided to recommend the document be officially adopted at the cabinet meeting on Monday night.

Developers Mace and Doric’s controversial £100m scheme for the area was thrown out by members of the council’s planning committee last year.

Since then Mace has taken on the project alone and will now use the SPD to produce new plans for the site.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr Mary Gill, co-chairman of West Way Community Concern, said: “At the previous meeting of this committee a number of concerns were raised, in particular the lawfulness of this document.

“Many people in Botley consider this SPD, in trying to support a development which due planning process has rejected, is a miscarriage of natural justice.

“We have agreed to work constructively with the Vale and Mace to bring forward a development in keeping with current and future needs.

“The SPD seems to be sitting like a third person in the marriage, making demands which neither Mace nor the community are happy with.”

But the Vale’s cabinet member for planning policy Michael Murray said: “It is clear we are not going to please everyone all the time.

“I think we need to make it clear that this is a policy document.

“I have not entered into a discussion (with Mace’s agents) about the Mace development, I have not seen any planning application from Mace, so this is a completely separate process. There is no relation between the application and the preparation of this document.”

Botley resident and professor of sustainability appraisal at Oxford Brookes University, Riki Therivel said the document was unlawful because there was no evidence of officers exploring different strategies.

She said: “ There is no evidence to show they have tried different approaches before reaching the draft now before us. They keep saying we need to trust them, but they then don’t show us why we should trust them.”