23 October 2013
(draft) Comments on Outline Planning Application 13/02557/OUT
Oxford Civic Society’s comments on the outline planning application for the redevelopment of the Westgate Centre (design issues).
Development design proposals
We have serious concerns that the design proposals continue to be inward-looking, with limited active frontages to the external elevations of large parts of Blocks B1, B2 and B3. We consider that this raises the risk of the Westgate centre being perceived as an island within the city, rather than as an integral and fully-connected element of the urban design. Coupled with the ‘traffic barrier’ effects of the large number of buses in Castle Street, and especially in Thames Street and Speedwell Street, the considerable lengths of inactive frontages will contribute to the severance of the adjacent areas of the city centre.
We note that large parts of the development at upper ground, first and second floor levels are scheduled to have significant amounts of leisure use included. If all of these were to be occupied for leisure purposes, the character of the development would be substantially different from an essentially retail environment, with a range of consequences which appear not to have been given consideration.