The Westgatw Shopping Centre in central Oxford is due to close for a two-year revelopment following a joint venture between Land Securities and The Crown Estate.
The project will cost £440 million and is due to open in late 2017.
Plans for the revelopment include over 100 new shops, 25 restaurants and cafés, a cinema and two public squares designed to host a range of events and exhibitions. New features include a 800,000 square-foot retail and leisure venue as well as a 142,000 square-foot flagship John Lewis department store.
Westgate Oxford has stated that the new development “will be the new retail and leisure destination set to attract world-class retailers and leisure facilities to the world-renowned and historic city of Oxford. It will create a brand new shopping and leisure experience in the heart of the city.”
The centre was previously home to discount shops including Poundland and Primark, popular amongst students for cheap bop costumes. Clare Denton, director of alternative fancy dress shop Celebrations, told Cherwell, “Whilst it is a shame to lose so many of the Westgate shops temporarily, we are aware of the buzz regarding the new shopping centre. Many Cornmarket shops are interested in relocating to the Westgate Centre when it re-opens as apparently it will be very appealing to customers.
“I do think discount stores are a good thing. [They] gives people choice and sometimes the value is very good. Our concerns are based far more on the lack of parking in Oxford, and how expensive it is, [as well as] the rumours circulating of a congestion charge to drive into the city centre, and that only electric cars will be allowed in the city centre. For us it is a simple matter that not everyone has access to public transport and we will not have a city centre if the council make it too diffi cult to access.”
However, Entz Rep for St Catherine’s College Andrea Sisko was less happy to hear the news. “I make all of my costumes and always use something from Primark. It is just the cheapest place with everything you need. I am already starting to panic about our next Entz: it’s going to be so much more expensive. I don’t know where else I can fi nd such cheap clothes which I will not feel bad to cut and use for a costume.”
Westgate claims that the new redeveloped centre will “make a £4.3m contribution to the city’s transport infrastructure” as well as “increase permeability with the provision of new 24-hour and 18-hour east-west and north-south routes.”