THE Westgate is ‘cold, bland [and] faceless’ one Oxford resident complained , as a student’s dissertation request reopened old wounds on social media.

Astrid Guthier, an Urban Planning and Development student at Cardiff University, asked for opinions on the Westgate’s design in Facebook group ‘Oxford Community’, hoping to use them for her dissertation.

The post went up on Tuesday morning and quickly gathered 146 comments in 48 hours - 86 per cent of which were negative.

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The main issues complained about were the open design not sheltering shoppers from the weather, a lack of public infrastructure like benches, the effect on other businesses in the city centre and a lack of disabled facilities.

Ms Guthier, 20 from Wheatley, said she had a feeling the public would react strongly: "In general, I think that everyone would like to have seen more of the quaint, niche Oxford incorporated into the design of the Westgate.

“We are known for this after all, and instead the Westgate feels just a bit bulky and commercialised, not distinctive in any way.

“Of course, the Westgate is better than it once was, although the old centre encouraged smaller, independent and less permanent shops so that something new appeared every few months.”

Commenting on the post, Tania Webb said: “The old Westgate was a wind trap, you used to get blown over in there before they added doors on to [the] entrances. The new Westgate seems to have again the same problem."

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She later told the Oxford Mail: “I felt that the designer never took note on the previous Westgate.

"I just feel that people never learn from previous mistakes which is a shame as there are so many shopping centres around that don’t have this issue.”

Not all the responses were negative with some complimenting the number of shops and restaurants now available in the city centre.

It comes as Land Securities, the owner of Westgate, was also included on a shortlist of Oxfordshire buildings that could win a top design award at Royal Institute of British Architects South Awards.

A spokesperson for Westgate Oxford said: “Westgate has been a huge success for the city and the overwhelming response since we opened has been positive."

“Last year, Westgate Oxford won Commercial Property of the Year at the British Construction Industry Awards, which recognise outstanding commercial and mixed-use buildings.”

The top comments:

• Marneta Viegas - “It is the most badly designed shopping centre. It floods when it rains heavily, and the snow comes in when it snows. It is freezing. The whole point of a shopping centre is you can stay warm.”

• Fran Brightman - “… it’s definitely not a place to go on a cold, wet or windy day! I’m sure not fully enclosing it was a cost-cutting measure, but it could have been done in a more intelligent way.”

• Mark Temple - “The impact it has had on the city as a whole is negative, though - much of Cornmarket St is now empty and boarded up. It doesn't look good for a rich city like Oxford to have a hollowed-out centre.”

Andrew Smith - “It’s shocking the money that was spent on this ugly concrete mess whilst shops are boarded up daily! Oxford City Council must be mad!”

• Jenny Pine - “It’s awful. [A] blank, wind tunnel. Soulless [and] has killed oxford. So many shops moved there, other streets [are] empty.”

• Ashley-Kate Mc Cann - It’s brilliant, exactly what the city needed. Haven’t seen the rest of the city as busy in the last 4 years since it opened.

• Asiye Aydin - “I must admit I like it, even though it doesn't look as pretty from all sides. It has lots of shops and great restaurants I like. It is also a good mix of open and closed spaces.”