West Way to be redeveloped

Last night Vale’s planning committe voted 8 to 3 to approve Mace’s West Way planning application. We had a good chance, but it didn’t happen. 

I’m disappointed in the decision. 

But WWCC and Botley’s residents and your local councillors worked hard and well together. We did absolutely the best we could over the past four years. I felt quite emotional last night. I’m so proud, and well done to all. 

Some leftover pieces:

I don’t understand why North Hinksey Parish Council decided to not object. A planning committee member noted that since they and other statutory consultees didn’t object, committee couldn’t refuse the application simply because they didn’t like it. Also neither parish council requested any S106 money for local playing fields. I’m curious about why not. 

In the new West Way (will it have a new name?) there will be fewer retail shops than now (20 vs 30), nearly all the office space will be lost, and we’ll have a residential led development with no affordable housing and no starter homes.  

As Tony Wood said to me last night, this is democracy in action. I do still believe it’s the best system anyone has come up with. 

The good points: Co-op will be staying as the anchor store. We heard Cafe Aloha will be part of the new centre too. 

Another good point: it’s Mace. They’ll continue to be the consultative partner they’ve been all along. 

Two odd bits that some residents noticed:

  • There is apparently a letter from Brookes university that they will be taking on the student housing. That’s a relief because we feared no one would want to be in Botley. But some people point out that the letter is from someone who’s retired from Brookes? They’ll be looking into that. 
  • The other odd thing is that, although there will be no affordable housing in the development, Mace have made a contribution of £2,000,000 in lieu. A question by a committee member revealed that this money isn’t ring fenced for affordable housing in Botley but will go back into the Vale wide budget. IMO, the community who suffers the pain should have some gain. A discussion for another day. 

West Way concern have raised the bar for community activism. The incredible amount of focused work over years on the Main Thing has been awe inspiring. As I’ve been known to say, ‘The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.’ We did excel at that, didn’t we?

Thank you to everyone. 

But wait. I thought the sales contract requires this development to have a cinema?