Banbury Civic Society has voiced fears that an important part of the town will be killed off if current plans to extend Castle Quay go ahead.
Rob Kinchin-Smith, leader of the society, has revealed concerns about how it believes reinforcing the ‘separation’ of the current shopping mall by incorporating a huge new development on the other side of the canal could shut off most of the rest of the town centre.
Current plans – dubbed Castle Quay Two (CQ2) – by Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (SWIP), include a supermarket, cinema, hotel, restaurants and cafes with access from Spiceball Park Road and Castle Street.
The Civic Society warns that to leave only a sub-standard pedestrian access through the bus station could prove fatal to Banbury ‘old town’. “No one’s objecting to CQ2 in principle but leaving the only pedestrian access through an unimproved bus station is simply untenable,” said Mr Kinchin Smith.
“If CQ2 is isolated from the old town it will not be a valuable addition to it but, instead, a rival to it with better parking, better cinema, better supermarket, better hotel and glitzier bars.
“It will do everything for leisure in the old town that CQ1 did for retail. This cannot be good governance.
“We feel that opposition to CQ2 has been too muted so far and we are in grave danger of sleep walking into another CQ1 ‘lost opportunity’.”
The Civic Society is joined by Banbury Town Council, the Inland Waterways Association, Canal and River Trust and the Environment Agency in making objections to the scheme.
The matter is expected to be discussed by Cherwell councillors at a committee meeting on January 9.
Banbury Town Council is concerned the development is not in Cherwell District Council’s agreed ‘cultural quarter’ and is worried there is not enough provision for lorries delivering to the supermarket.
The town council’s planning committee is due to meet on Wednesday and it is understood agreement on other objections will be finalised before its report to Cherwell is completed. Inland Waterways planning spokesman Chris Wardley said: “Inland Waterways Association, which represents 18,000 members, whilst supporting the principle of development, believes the present proposals are likely to be seriously detrimental to current moorings on the canal in Banbury, especially overnight.
“Further, we are unable to envisage how the very popular Banbury Canal Day can continue if these plans are implemented.”
The Civic Society says the height of the planned hotel, which would be second only to the Castle Street multi-storey car park in dimension, would be damagingly tall. The paper airs concern about Banbury’s historic Tooley’s boatyard and canalside open areas being shrouded in shadow for most of the day because of the height of the buildings.
“We are very concerned its orientation and proximity to the canal will throw much of the CQ2 canalside area into almost permanent deep shadow,” the society’s submission to Cherwell says.