Oxford Westgate Shopping Centre plans approved

Westgate Alliance artists' impression Image copyright Westgate Alliance
Image caption The redesign includes space for 100 shops, including a large John Lewis department store

A £500m long-standing plan to rebuild Oxford's West End has been approved.

Proposals to redevelop the 1973-built Westgate Shopping Centre and adjacent land have been afoot since 1988, but various concerns delayed any progress.

Work can now start on the 14-acre (5.7 hectare) site for about 100 new shops and 122 homes as well as a cinema, eateries and a basement car park.

Site owner Westgate Alliance said it wanted to create a world-class retail and leisure destination.

'Enhance historic core'

Oxford City Council's West Area Planning Committee approved the plans on Tuesday night despite a raft of objections from different parties.

Image copyright Various
Image caption Some groups expressed concern about the impact on city views (below) while others welcomed a new look from the current centre (right) and an expanded district (left)

The Oxford Civic Society had raised concerns about increased traffic congestion, as the development would alter public highways and priority bus routes.

Organisations including The Oxford Architectural And Historical Society had issues with how the height and scale of the development would impact on city views.

A society spokesman said: "Buildings should preserve and enhance [the] historic environment by opening up townscape, not concealing it."

A public consultation produced 228 written responses, 71% of which showed support for the plans.

The development includes covered streets, open squares, new pedestrian walkways and a roof top terrace with views over the city.

According to Westgate Alliance, the rebuild would create more than 3,400 new jobs as well as 600 jobs a year during construction. Work is expected to be completed by 2017.

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