WORK has begun to move shops into temporary new homes to make way for a long-delayed shopping centre to be built.

But residents living near the West Way in Botley have been angered again after one of the first actions taken by developers Mace was to cut down a number of mature trees.

After years of delays, the first signs of progress have appeared on the site with security fences and portacabins put up.

Asbestos is being removed from the nearby Grant Thornton and Elms Court buildings before companies including Tesco and Co-op can move in.

As part of these initial works, the row of ten trees between the buildings and the West Way have been felled, something which long-term Botley resident Jim Hyndman said shows Mace are 'insensitive' to the community's needs and wishes.

He added: "It is upsetting to see mature trees felled in an urban centre, where there are precious few trees anyway.

"I understand the new scheme will involve landscaping gardening but it will take another 50 years to grow trees of this size.

"If the developer was at all sympathetic to the community they could have retained the trees, as they are at the very periphery of the new development, and are not in the way of proposed buildings.

"I can only think they stopped them making as much profit as possible."

The original 1960s shopping centre is set to be demolished and replaced with new shops, a hotel and student accommodation.

But plans for the works have been changed numerous times with many of the original shops shutting last year, leaving residents complaining of feeling like 'living in a ghost town.'

My Hyndman, a 55-year-old IT trainer, added: "First we have seen the permanent closure of all the independent retailers in the West Way Centre, now we must witness this environmental vandalism of our natural resources.

"It is particularly insensitive and unimaginative of the developers not to have incorporated the trees into the new build."

In further developments a planning application has been submitted so that a community cafe can be opened temporarily in the old Sue Ryder charity shop.

Branches Young People Support Services is awaiting a decision on its application to change the use of the shop to a food and drink premises.

Work on the main redevelopment will commence in June 2018, according to Mace, who propose to work on the site from 7.30am until 6pm, Monday to Friday and 8am until 1pm on Saturdays.

The developer didn't respond to requests for comment on the trees.