Inside view of the new Westgate Oxford shopping centre
|Opening date||1972 (original building) |
Tuesday 24 October 2017 (enlarged building)
|Architect||Original building: Douglas Murray Enlarged scheme: BDP, Dixon Jones, Allies & Morrison, Panter Hudspith, Glen Howells Architects|
|No. of stores and services||125|
|No. of anchor tenants||1 (John Lewis)|
|Total retail floor area||800,000 square feet (74,000 m2)|
The Westgate Centre (recently rebranded as Westgate Oxford) is a major shopping centre in Oxford city centre, England, that was extensively remodelled and extended between 2016–17. The original centre was built between 1970–72, designed by Douglas Murray and built by Taylor Woodrow. The centre was closed in February 2016 for comprehensive redevelopment, and reopened on Tuesday 24 October 2017.
Westgate is at the west end of Queen Street, facing onto Bonn Square where the medieval West Gate into the city of Oxford once stood. The shopping centre is named after this former gateway into the medieval city. The site is bordered by Bonn Square, St Ebbes Street, Norfolk Street, Abbey Place, Oxpens Road, Old Greyfriars Street and Castle Street, and is adjacent to the medieval Oxford Castle quarter to the northwest.
Plans for the redevelopment of the Westgate area were originally published in 2004. Over the next several years, the plan underwent several rounds of consultation and inquiry. The current plan was adopted in the early 2010s, and development permission granted in November 2014. Work on the development started in early 2015, and the original centre closed in 2016.
The new centre has almost 800,000 square feet (74,000 m2) of retail, restaurant and leisure space including a new John Lewis, a rooftop dining terrace with views across Oxford's iconic skyline, and a five screen Curzon Cinema. According to Oxford City Council, "the £500 million redevelopment of the Westgate Centre is a key part of the regeneration of Oxford city centre, creating high quality buildings designed by world-class architects and providing more than 3,400 new full-time equivalent jobs." The new centre reopened on 24 October 2017.
The new Westgate has features and facilities including:
- About 100 new shops including a John Lewis department store and various high street retailers
- Cafés and restaurants
- Leisure facilities including a cinema
- New landscaped walkway along Castle Mill Stream
- Two new public squares
- New pedestrian routes through the site
- Re-routed bus lane and new taxi drop-off / pick up
- Cycle parking
- Two-storey basement car park of between 900 and 1,100 spaces
- 59 new one- and two-bedroom flats (apartments)
When the original centre was built in the 1970s, excavations for the service basements destroyed archaeological remains of part of medieval Oxford.
Urban planning and architecture
In 2008 a local campaign group, called "Oxford Against Westgate Expansion", was formed to oppose the proposed redevelopment. The campaigners were critical of the consultation process that led to the approval of the plans and several aspects of the proposed design.
Inadequately positioned spaces for cycle parking and breach of planning conditions.
Queen Street closure
Oxfordshire County Council sought to ban buses from using Queen Street, which passes the Westgate Centre's main entrance. The council alleged that the increase in pedestrian numbers generated by the enlarged shopping centre would mean that it would no longer be safe for buses to use the street. The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, declined the application, pointing out that the council had failed to provide evidence of its claim.
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