by John Grimshaw, local resident
I have been to the Mace presentations and have been prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. I guess other people have too. But now the scales have fallen from my eyes. At last we see properly the Mace plans for the West Way Centre and, although different from Doric’s they are still a disaster for Botley and the surrounding area. With one large block 9 storeys high, and other massive blocks 8, 6 and 5 storeys, we again have a planned development vastly out of scale and character for the site and inappropriate for the community. The proposed 129 new flats could have, say, 200 residents; the 122-bedroom hotel could have nearly 250 guests; the student accommodation is sufficient for over 250 students. When you add in the staff of the hotel and of the shops and restaurants we will have around eight hundred people on the site, not counting any shoppers!
All these people will need car parking space but only about 320 spaces are to be provided, hardly any more than at present. So shoppers won’t get much of a look in. More cycle parking is fine, but I doubt many Cumnor residents will be cycling to West Way and back to do their shopping.
Furthermore the present shopping centre works well not only because there is adequate parking but also because the parking is easily accessible. The Mace plan suggests to me the traffic flow and parking will be unworkable. Instead it will produce such congestion that shoppers will forced down the Botley Road and elsewhere for their needs.
So the scheme will not provide the centre required by the community. It needs to be stopped or drastically modified. I urge readers to get down to the West Way Community Concern shop in Elms Parade, examine the plans and put in their comments to the Vale. There isn’t much time.
(This blog post has also been submitted as a letter to Cumnor Parish News)