THE main redevelopment of Botley’s West Way shopping centre is finally set to begin in earnest despite lingering fears the scheme could cause serious parking problems.

A drop-in session was held on Monday to inform residents of the next stage of works on the £100m development which will see developer Mace regenerate the ‘tired’ 1960s shopping arcade into a new ‘community hub’ featuring shops, 140 residential apartments, student accommodation and a 123-bed hotel.

And following delays of almost two years, construction firm SDC will begin the main body of works, including demolition of the Baptist church, on June 25 after a series of final minor amendments to Mace’s plans were approved last week.

Some residents, though, still have a number of concerns including the scale of the new building and parking.

Speaking at the drop-in session at St Peter and St Paul Church, Botley resident Owen Mullins said that the new development would severely limit daylight to the buildings opposite, while a lack of hotel and student parking would cause parking issues on nearby roads.

He said: “My concerns haven’t been addressed at all - they seem to be going ahead and doing what they’ve always wanted to do.

“Many people in Botley feel they’ve been let down by what the council have done and what has been proposed for the development.”

Vale councillor Emily Smith said the lack of student parking had always been a concern, but admitted the plans were unlikely to go back to the council for further amendments.

Work on creating a temporary home for some of the retailers and services began in May, including demolition of part of the Grant Thornton Buildings.

The main works on the development will now be split into two phases with the first and largest phase (the southern section of the site), expected to take up to two-and-a-half years.

The second phase, along Elms Parade and the remaining Grant Thornton Buildings, will begin about 18 months after the start of the first phase.

Mace development manager Seamus Keane said his firm was keen to see a mix of independent business and larger retailers in the redevelopment.

Addressing ongoing concerns of residents including the student parking he said: “It’s not only ourselves that are happy with the scheme but the planners as well.

“[Parking] was something that was discussed at the planning stage and the planners agreed with the approach taken.

“It will be written into the students’ leases and everyone seems happy with that approach.

“It’s something that Oxford University, Oxford Brookes and their operators do already, so it’s proven that it works and is enforceable.”