WITH beloved independent traders slowly disappearing from West Way Shopping Centre, residents are now anxious for work to begin on its redevelopment.

Developers Mace were back in the village yesterday to show residents the changes they had made to the scheduling of the demolition and rebuild.

Initially the plans would have taken almost five years to complete, as the construction phasing would allow shops and businesses in the centre to continue operating, but with the new proposals it is hoped the redevelopment will now take two and a half years.

Development director at Mace Huw Griffiths said: “We understand people’s frustrations in terms of timing and how long it has taken to get to this point.

“But we are making a conscious effort to finalise tenant agreements and to ensure it is done amicably and we have to do that before we can start bringing the bulldozers in.

“The general feedback has been positive, people have raised concerns about the dust that will be generated from the construction and how that will impact businesses in Elms Parade and the nearby school.

“But environmental provision will be provided and there are conditions that we have to stick to with this.”

The changes to the demolition plan were first announced in April and since then the heart of the shopping centre, Cafe Aloha has closed down with other businesses looking to follow suit.

Vale of White Horse District Councillor Judy Roberts said the development was the ‘card they had been dealt with’ and work needs to start.

She added: “We have already lost some of the traders, that was really sad.

“We were trying to keep them while the development happened, but unfortunately it has not worked out like that.

“Now we have to get on with it and push for work to start.

“We want some sense of a community back in the area and this is the only offer on the table.”

Work is now expected to begin in autumn this year. The Grant Thornton and Elms Court buildings will provide temporary homes while the current 60s shopping centre is knocked down.

Grant Thornton and Elms Court will accommodate Seacourt Hall, Botley Baptist Church and Lloyd’s pharmacy.

Eighteen months after work begins on West Way, work will then start on the Grant Thornton building.

For more information visit the council’s website and search using: P17/V1507/FUL.