THE fight for a "better deal for Botley" continues after it was revealed there would be no affordable housing in the redevelopment plans for West Way Shopping Centre.

Planning officers at Vale of White Horse district council have recommended the plans for approval.

But members of West Way Community Concern are contesting the officer's assessment, with Lorna Berrett, co-chairwoman of the group, saying Oxfordshire "desperately needs affordable homes".

She added: "If Mace are serious about the commitments they have made to deliver a scheme that meets needs then they should not be trying to undermine these affordable housing targets.

"This is an issue that goes way beyond local concerns."

The report says developers Mace have offered to include 14 one-bed starter homes as an alternative to providing 56 affordable units.

Officers challenged the applicant's affordable housing provision and said it was negotiating a £2m contribution from Mace to help with the council's need for family homes.

A spokesman for Vale of White Horse district council said the details of the contribution for off-site affordable housing will be confirmed before the meeting on Wednesday.

But Dr Mary Gill, co-chairwoman of the community group, said it was ready to challenge the recommendation during next week's debate.

She said: "The development does not meet the requirements of local policies and will not provide a sustainable development to serve Botley for the future.

"We anticipate that local people, who have taken the time and effort to read the documentation and prepare well argued comments, will be angered by the Vale ignoring the strength of public opinion.

"The report relies on the fact that economic and social benefits for this development outweigh the considerable faults in its design.

"We contend that the development would cause economic and social harm to the area and the report confirms that this will be a centre aimed at comparison shopping, hence duplicating amenities which are already available in Oxford and Abingdon, while removing its essential status as a local service centre."

Mace's proposals were initially submitted in April and were met with 349 objections and 20 supporters but fewer people commented on the revised plans submitted in May, with 114 raising objections and three supporting the proposal.

If the application is approved, then during the three-year construction period 55 new full-time jobs will be created with an additional 248 permanent opportunities following completion.

David McFarlane, from SP Broadway that represents Mace, said: "We are delighted to have a recommendation of approval from the officers.

"They are the technical experts so it is really encouraging that they think the scheme is worthy of their support and it is also encouraging that we have now got the support of Oxfordshire County Council on highways, which came through yesterday.

"We are looking forward to the debate at the planning committee next week and we think that the fact we have got this recommendation from the officers is particularly a recognition of the huge amount of consultation that has been under taken on the scheme and what the scheme brings to Botley."

The application will be before Vale's planning committee on Wednesday, June 15 at 6.30pm in Wantage.