Category Archives: West Way Development

West Way update 2 Feb 2018

(If you have a West Way photo I can use, please contact me?)

This is the latest message from Mace:

2 February 2018

The redevelopment of the West Way area was first awarded a planning consent in June 2016,
and Botley Development Company (BDC) has since worked tirelessly to secure agreements
with all businesses and landowners, helping those who want to stay and supporting those who
have opted to leave.

On 26 January 2018 BDC completed the purchase of the land from Vale of White Horse District

Works will commence in February 2018, starting with the creation of a temporary retail area,
allowing some existing businesses to continue trading at West Way throughout the
construction period, including temporary premises for Tesco, Co-op, Lloyds Pharmacy, North
Hinksey Parish Council and Baptist Church.

BDC is currently finalising the construction timetable for the main redevelopment. Subject to
the recently submitted amendments to the existing planning consent being approved, and
finalising highways agreements with Oxfordshire County Council, commencement of the main
works is anticipated in June 2018. By this time, the temporary retail area will be fully

Work on Phase 1 should then be complete in late 2020, with Phase 2 starting around halfway
through Phase 1.

Hoarding has been placed on and around the vacant premises at West Way for security
reasons. BDC is looking at ways of incorporating artwork to make the hoarding more attractive,
and is in dialogue with a local art group and nearby school.

BDC will be sending regular updates on upcoming works to local residents throughout the
construction period, supported by construction partner SDC and community engagement
consultant SP Broadway.

Commenting today, Huw Griffiths, Development Director at BDC said: “The planning consent and purchase has been a long and complicated process, involving a number of businesses and landowners with differing aspirations and ambitions at West Way. We are delighted to have finally completed the purchase of the site, and to have formed agreements that all parties are happy with. Mace would like to thank all stakeholders who have been involved in the process.”

Notes for Editors:
1. Botley Development Company (BDC) is a joint venture between Mace and Doric Properties.
2. For further information, visit the community consultation website or contact:
David McFarlane, SP Broadway (assisting with consultation) – 0203 405 1400 or

Puffin crossing West Way at Poplar Rd

Oxfordshire County Council’s consultation for the new pedestrian crossing of West Way at Poplar Rd is open until 16 Feb 2018.

You can take part here:

Here’s the comment I submitted:

I have two main worries, and I feel it’s important for me to highlight these for the county officers who will make this final decision. 
First, this is the main crossing for pupils to get to school and back home again. At the rush hour, the pavement on the north side of West Way isn’t wide enough to hold everyone safely. Crowds of people waiting to cross West Way mean others who are trying to pass by can sometimes be forced off the pavement into the street. There is no slack here; parents waiting on the pavement have been hit by bus mirrors. It’s that close to traffic. Can the pavement be made wider, safer and more capacious here?
Second, with the number of different vehicles using West Way right here, I think a 20mph limit would be helpful and advised. HGVs, service vehicles, cars, cycles, pedestrians, parents pushing push chairs, wheelchair users and blind people are all sharing the road and pavement here. Plus this crosswalk is just as west bound buses reach the bus stop and pull in. We’ve had some serious accidents here. Let’s slow everyone right down, to make it safer. 
4 Feb 2018


West Way sale is complete

Vale of White Horse District Council has completed the £12.4 million sale of land to Botley Development Company who are set to revitalise the shopping centre and adjacent land at West Way.

The district council has been working to secure the redevelopment for some time to enhance and breathe new life into the whole shopping area for Botley residents.

Since the original agreements to sell in 2012, the developer has adapted and changed its plans after extensive consultation with the local community. The updated plans were granted planning permission in 2016.

The district council and other site land owners agreed a new price to help Botley Development Company proceed with the purchase and to make the changes to their plans that were necessary to meet the needs of the community. The council took a reduction of approximately £1.4 million and agreed to sell the land for just over £12.4 million.

Matthew Barber, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, said, “I’m sure residents of Botley are, like me, delighted to have reached this vital stage. It’s been a long road to get to this point, but now we can look forward to a brand new, exciting West Way that will serve Botley and residents in the Vale for years to come.”

Botley Development Company hopes to start preliminary work on the site as soon as possible.


Note to editors 

The council has received a total of £12,436,570.53 capital for the sale of land at West Way.

The agreed reduction to the land sale was £1,413,246.65.

Resolving the reasons for call-in on West Way 1507

I feel that all of the reasons I gave for calling in this application have been satisfactorily addressed by Mace (et al), so I have today 24 July 17, cancelled my call-in. 

Here’s the path taken to resolving my reasons for call-in.

  • ‘Content’ means I am satisfied that all that can be done is being done.
  • ‘Open’ means there are still actions to take to resolve it. (Update 24 Jul  17: nothing remains open.)

As aide memoire, see my reasons here:

The numbers here refer to my reason there. Updated 14 Jul 2017. Updated 24 Jul 2017

  1. Content. Accessibility of temporary shops: there’s no evidence of consultation with Vale’s equalities officer. All the shops and services must be accessible to wheelchairs. People with mobility scooters need to be able to access the shops. Suggest Cheryl needs to assess the plans and offer her opinions. (Update 14 Jul 17, her name has been added to list of consultees. I’ll speak to her about it. Once she is content, I am content. Update 24 Jul 2017: Equalities Officer has been consulted, and the issues she raised addressed. There are three public toilets in the temporary shops: Grant Thorton Building, Lloyd’s and the cafe. At least one of them will be accessible.  Mace will look to include a ‘Space to Change’ facility in the final development. The lift will access the 1st and 2nd floor in the Grant Thornton building.)  
  2. Content. All shops must be accessible by everyone. Wheelchairs, walking aids, double buggies. These are our only shops. Does the ramp into Lloyds Chemist work for all? Where will mobility scooters be parked? (Update. As above. Once the Equalities officer has assessed and is content, I’m content. Update 24 Jul 17. Mobility scooters may be parked under the existing canopy by unit 25. At Co-op there is room inside the store. Equalities officer is content with accessibility, so I am content.)
  3. Content. Shops must be safely accessible to cyclists, with safe, secure parking in the plans. Suggest applicant’s consultants meet with a rep of two from local cycling organisations to ensure access and parking are safe and secure. (Update: Mace has agreed to a meeting with representative from local cycling organisations.  A list of invitees is with them today, and they are oganising the meeting. Update 24 Jul 17: I attended a meeting with representatives of local cycling organisations, and Mace (et al). Our discussions were wide-ranging, including issues related  to where consent has already been given, and where plans for management are still to come. Mace (et al) have agreed to more cycle stands in convenient locations, and a new access to the temporary shops on the north boundary of the site. Cyclists share the roads and access routes with cars, pedestrians, refuse lorries, delivery vehicles and construction vehicles. This discussion led to some changes to improve cyclist safety, without compromising the other road users. The banksman will be placed up near West Way, some convex mirrors will be placed to improve cyclists’ visibility (subject to OCC approval), and more signage to raise everyone’s awareness.)
  4. Content. Since the promise was to maintain services, it seems inarguable that a ground floor or completely accessible café should be required to be within this temporary shopping area. (Update. It’s not Mace’s job to provide a cafe; but they are willing to support the effort if a plan comes to them. They have a space available.) 
  5. Content. Pavements and cross walks. Pavements at the entrance to cross walks must be large enough to accommodate the crush of parents and pupils at morning and afternoon school run time. (Update. I’d like to get opinion from county expert on the school children’s safety at the crossing, and if it is relocated and redesigned, assurances (with evidence) from County that the relocation of the crosswalk is safe. And the pavement widths if they have to accommodate more children and parents waiting to cross at the busy times. Update 24 Jul17: This is related to a previous planning application where consent has been given. County were happy it was safe.)
  6. Content. Bus stops on Westminster Way. How will these be accessed? If there’s no pavement on the west side of the street (and there is already no pavement on the east side) how will people get to the bus stops? Will they be relocated? To where, and what’s the pedestrian route? There is one stop outside the Baptist church, not considered in the plans. When the pavement is closed off, what will people do to get to the bus? (Update: the pavements will remain open. There was an error in one of the drawings in the Design & Access Statement showing them closed off. Only short temporary closures are required for utilities work and that will all be managed by OCC, with temporary pathways around. Bus stops will be open.)
  7. Content. New vehicle access at East end of Elms Parade: the proposed new two way access from West Way is very close to both the main signaled intersection, and the crosswalk leading to and from Botley School. It repeats a design that used to be there and was closed for safety reasons. It should not be reopened until safety of cyclists and pedestrians is assured. It may mean moving the school crosswalk, or temporary traffic lights at the new junction. Safety must be assured. (Update: I’d like to know from County Council why it was closed long ago (we hear it was a safety issue), and how conditions are different now that make this safe. Update 24 Jul 17: this is related to a previous application for which consent has already been given. So it is out of scope for this planning application. I’ll still pursue it, but out of interest rather than out of necessity.)
  8. Content. School access. During morning and afternoon school run times, where will parents park and what route will they take, either from their cars if they drive, or from their homes, to school? Suggest transport consultants visit the area at 8:45am and 3:00 on a school day and offer a realistic and safe solution. (Update. The transport consultants (et al) have visited the site at crush hour on school days and feel confident there is enough parking to handle it all. Realistically, I feel this will sort itself out and people will find a way to do it, even if it means parking further away, as on Poplar Rd or Seacourt Rd or Arthray Rd and walking a different route.) 
  9. Content. Traffic modelling/Transport statement. It relies on trip projections for the final centre, a medium sized supermarket with flats and cafes. These temporary shops will bring different trip rates. The discussion of that is worth having, and an assessment of whether the provided parking and turning space is adequate for a high-trip-rate convenience store based centre. Suggest the planners and applicant’s consultant meet with local transport specialists to iron this out. (Update. Mace agreed to meeting with concerned local residents, but no one from Botley was available to do it.) 
  10. Content. Construction workers and park and ride. It’s been confirmed by Oxford City (via email) that Seacourt Park and Ride can be used by construction workers’ vehicles, and that this is likely to result in the site being full. (City claims it’s often full; County claims its rarely full.) So where will people who currently use it park instead? And the builders, when it is full?  Also any vans over 2m high will not be able to use the P&R. Suggest: developers put together a Plan B for when the P&R is full or builders drive tall vehicles, and address enforceability. (Update: plan B is an open field somewhere, and a hired coach or van to shuttle the workers. We have to monitor against builders parking in local streets. The developers are committed to solving problems as they arise. Large vehicles won’t use P&R; they will be parked on site. ) 
  11. Content. No evidence Cumnor Parish council were included in this consultation. (Update: I checked. Cumnor Parish council responded but only said they support my reasons for call-in. This was a Vale error, not Mace’s.)
  12. Content.  (Update: I have read Neil Rowley’s responses to County and an content with much of it. I await County’s reply; if they are content, I am content. Update 24 Jul 17: a Construction Management Plan will be submitted. I am content to let County’s respondents decide this. I don’t need to hold things up waiting for them.) County Highways object as follows:
    1. GIA data has errors
    2. DAS, Agent’s letter and Transport statement are in contradiction with each other and ‘overall the proposals are not coherent’.
    3. Parking space numbers are inconsistent. Is it 38 spaces, 41, or 42 spaces?
    4. Applicant did not discuss with highways the changes intended to the approved plans.
    5. A robust construction management plan expected but not yet produced. In fact, it’s more than ‘expected’; it’s required by condition 12 of the permission given.
    6. These temporary plans for access contravene the approved plans in significant ways.
  13. Content. County asks Vale to consult their in-house ecologist. I don’t see such inclusion in the list of consultees. (Update: The Countryside Officer IS the ecologist.)
  14. Content. Significant safety issues: construction and delivery vehicles compete with extant traffic plus shoppers’ vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and school children. See the particulars of this in the comments of Dr Mary Gill. (Update: We’ve identified these main safety issues:
    1. The Barclay Bank access at Church Way is already a place where drivers wait for clear space to move ahead. People park on yellow lines to use the cash point. There isn’t clear room for two cars to pass at the entrance to Elms Parade car park (there’s that odd stick-outy pavement by the ex-car part shop). Pedestrians use both sides of Church Way. Cycles, buses, pedestrians and cars pass the entrance there, and this plan adds construction vehicles as well. Can we improve the access by changing the shop-front pavement at the west end of the parade car park? Also, that entrance needs some control.
    2. The proposed new access has the same problems, plus it has possibly more children and parents on their way to and from school, AND delivery vehicles for the temporary shops.
    3. What is the proposed route for rubbish and recycling vehicles for the temporary shops, and where is the rubbish storage area for the two food shops in particular?
    4. Could it help to allow one way east-bound traffic behind the Elms parade shops? For people who want to exit the temporary shops and go right at the Church Way exit, it would mean they didn’t have to negotiate the parade car park sat the front of Elm’s Parade.)
    5. (Update 24 Jul 17: Banksmen at the Church Way access into and out of Elms Parade will assure traffic flows safely, and will prevent double parking that blocks everyone. Rubbish and Recycling will use the two loading bays as delivery vehicles. There’s not enough space to have traffic travel behind the Elms Parade shops.)
  15. Content. The Botley SPD, adopted by Vale Cabinet in the face of vehement objection by the local community and ward members, MUST be adhered to. The SPD says: ‘Service vehicle traffic should be directed to a dedicated access and servicing facility accessed from Westminster Way, thus avoiding public areas and minimising service vehicle movements on residential streets’. The consented plans didn’t comply with this requirement. Neither does this plan. (Update: see above response on item 14. Also, we’ll cover this at the cyclists meeting. Update 24 Jul 17: There has been much discussion on the left in and left out configuration. The only evidence I’ve seen is that this is the safest way for construction vehicles to access the site. It also to minimise disruption to traffic flow. The extra precautions for cyclists (mentioned elsewhere in this doc) are intended to further safeguard their travel in Botley during construction. Any problems must be reported immediately to the constructors’ site manager, so it can be managed appropriately.)
  16. Content (17/7/17)From Dr Mary Gill: ‘If the Council are minded to accept the amendment to the S106 agreement for P0246/FUL to allow this re-phasing, then the contribution to be made in lieu of affordable housing needs also to be revisited. Under P0246/FUL, the development was deemed to be deliverable and viable, provided that no affordable housing was included. The re-phased development will save cost, and hence a larger contribution should be requested.’ That seems to me to be a fair point. (Update: I’ll speak to Adrian Duffield, Head of Planning, about the expected viability report on Friday 14th July.) (17 July. After speaking with Adrian Duffield, I am content. Any change in the viability report as a result of more information from the constructors doesn’t increase profits. It brings down costs which were forecast before the constructors had the detailed estimates necessary for realistic costing. It’s as likely that the original plan relied on inaccurate costing. Once we see the viabilty report, which will be publicly viewable, we can address the specifics. We will know the figures then.)


West Way consultation through 29 June

Mace have submitted plans for changes of use to support their re-phasing.

The application is for: Temporary planning consent for a period of 3 years for the change of use, relocation and addition of units at Botley Local Centre. Works also include alterations to access and egress arrangements, provision of 41 car parking spaces, partial demolition of Grant Thornton House, amendments to the phasing plan and installation of a portacabin (A1 use).

You can see the plans and Comment here:

Deadline for comments is 29 June, 5pm.

West Way Place – new phasing plans

Mace announced they have a new phasing plan for West Way Place development. Their new plan means 2 years less construction time overall, but it also means Botley loses some of our local services for the whole period.

At the Community Liaison Group meeting on the 10th of April, we heard officially about the new plans for phasing. Tesco, Co-op and Lloyds will be among the tenants temporarily housed in modified quarters in Elms Court and the old Grant Thornton building. This is to help with continuity of services to the local community during construction.

To see the plans, check out Mace’s West Way site, here: Use the contact tab on that site to ask about anything not already there. (They aren’t all there at the time of writing this, but I’ve asked that they be put up.) Particularly see this 2 page update.

It’s been upsetting to learn that community favourites, local independent businesses such as Cafe Aloha and Hair Therapy and the chain Iceland, which so many rely on, are closing down. Everyone had hoped they would continue during construction and be part of the new centre. Some discussions are still ongoing and are therefore sensitive and private. But the traders make their own decisions about what’s best for them and their circumstances.

Who approves the change to phasing plans?

Ultimately, the Vale planners do.

The developers obligations are set out in the Section 106 agreement, which is a legally binding contract about what the developers and other parties will do.

I’ve downloaded a copy of the s106 agreements to Dropbox , so you can see it here. Sadly it’s not searchable, so you have to browse it to find what you’re looking for. (I did ask Vale to fix this but they said they couldn’t. I’ll see what I can do.)

Para 5.5 (approx pg 10)  there gives authority to the Vale planners to agree any changes to the phasing plan (approx page 52). Our planning officer said he wanted the public to have sight of the proposed changes and to be able to comment on them. So he asked Mace to include the phasing changes in their imminent planning application for a temporary change of use, and they agreed to do that. Mace have said there will be public exhibitions and a chance to raise concerns and get your questions answered.

So we’re about to embark on another period of significant change here.

West Way Redevelopment – about to begin

Planning permission was granted in Sept 2016, and the time for judicial review has passed. Preparations are underway to begin Phase 1 of the redevelopment, which is at the eastern end of the site.

Mace resumed their community liaison group meetings last week, where they keep key players informed so that we can inform everyone else.

Mace brought along their likely construction partners, SDC Construction (see their website here: We heard from their MD and site manager about the way they plan to work. They’ll have a full time on site community liaison manager, who we can contact about any problems. One interesting thing is that they are a company owned by their employees, sort of like John Lewis, That means they are not answerable to shareholders and so are not after the cheapest solution. They are ‘considerate constructors’ to whom their good reputation is the most important thing. They have a clever plan to mitigate some of the construction traffic problems: they’ll hire space in the Seacourt Park & Ride for workers to park, and will run a shuttle to move workers between parking and the site. Good idea, I thought.

Occupants affected by Phase 1 (toward the eastern end of the site) will be moving to their temporary facilities beginning in January. Seacourt Hall and the Library will be re-homed into the precinct, and Andrews Dry Cleaning is moving into the old motor parts shop in Elm’s Parade.

Demolition for Phase 1 is scheduled to begin toward the end of Q1, and will take 3-4 months. Details will be available on the SDC and Mace websites, and once those are up and running the link will be widely available. There will be a webcam broadcasting 24/7. Might be a fun project for someone wants to regularly capture them and make a time lapse film of it? Who’s up for that?

Motion for £2m for affordable homes in Botley


Tories tabled an amendment to our motion for Botley’s affordable housing, to make the motion read:

Council notes that the planning permission for West Way development in Botley, which includes 140+ new houses, will not include any provision of affordable housing. Council also notes that the developers have contributed £2,000,000 to off-site affordable housing.

Council will ring fence the contribution in lieu of affordable housing in the Affordable Housing earmarked reserve fund as has been the case with similar contributions. Priority will be given to funding schemes in North Hinksey area and Cumnor area and council asks officers to work with North Hinksey Parish Council, Cumnor Parish Council and local Members to identify suitable schemes.

As Council debated this motion, I said:

  • Vale policy is that for developments of more than 10 homes, 40% of them must be affordable. The applicants at West Way claimed their project was so risky and expensive that they couldn’t provide any affordable housing at all, but they offered £2,000,000 as a contribution to affordable housing elsewhere.
  • The people of Botley would like council to make it a priority to provide some affordable housing in Botley.
  • Our whole central area is to be demolished. We’re losing all our office space, and after the rebuild there will be fewer shops than we have now.
  • We need houses that are affordable to the working professionals who want to live here: teachers, nurses, university staff, etc.
  • Its not clear what sort of opportunities exist in Botley; we’re feeling rather full at the moment. But there are organisations that have creative models, such as Community Land Trusts, who build houses that will be permanently affordable for local people. Council can explore some of those options.

The motion passed, I’m happy to report. We now have £2,000,000 to support affordable housing schemes for Botley. If it isn’t spent in 10 years, it will go back to Mace. So let’s get busy.

——– Original post…

The Lib Dem councillors of the Vale have tabled a motion concerning affordable housing in Botley. Full council meeting 20 July is open to the public.

“Council notes that the planning permission for West Way development in Botley, which includes 140+ new houses, will not include any provision of affordable housing. Council also notes that the developers have contributed £2,000,000 to affordable housing elsewhere. This council believes in fair play, and that communities who accept new housing developments should benefit from developer contributions; therefore the council asks officers to take the necessary steps to ring fence this donation, and any future overage, for affordable housing in Botley, and to explore options for providing such affordable housing in Botley.”

We’ll try to get some Tory support for this. I can’t see how it’s party political.

Vale planners and committee made a mistake

They shouldn’t have accepted the Mace viability report as a good enough reason to not provide any affordable housing. It felt like no one was thinking this through.

During the planning meeting, every time this subject came up, and the planning officers explained it away as they did, I boiled a little more.

Mace submitted a viability report, where they quantified that this project would leave them with no profit if they had to comply with the Vale policy that required 40% of housing to be affordable housing (essentially, social housing or shared ownership).

Vale Head of Planning and the planning officer repeatedly explained to us that they had hired an independent consultant, who verified that what Mace said was true. He told us this several times. Each time I wanted to jump out of my seat (I was in the audience, so not allowed to participate in the ‘debate’).

Not one member of committee was clever enough, or brave enough, to point out that what our independent consultant said was not the point. No one was saying Mace’s claim wasn’t true. Everyone was saying that, since it WAS true, their planning application should be refused as the whole development wasn’t economically viable. In other words, if you can’t do what’s required, well then, permission is refused.

I don’t consider it valid to say that this project is so risky and expensive that we can’t comply with the affordable housing policy. But that’s what the 8 Tories decided. And since a consultant said it was true, the planning officers went with it too.

Why was it that the Tories on the planning committee accepted this without question? In fact, why did three of them have no questions at all, and not participate in the debate? I’m on a slow burn. Furious.