Set back for Castle Quay expansion plans

Artist's impression: Castle Quay extension
Artist's impression: Castle Quay extension

Plans to demolish Banbury’s General Foods Sports and Social Club and extend Castle Quay shopping centre were put on hold last Thursday due to fears developers had failed to satisfy concerns over traffic congestion.

Proposals lodged by Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (SWIP) for restaurants, cafes, a hotel, cinema and food store were deferred by Cherwell District Council’s planning committee on Thursday, after county council planners said they have “major ongoing concerns” regarding the Transport Assessment submitted in support of the application.

A letter, dated January 2 from Martin Tugwell, the county’s deputy director for strategy and infrastructure planning, states OCC had a number of “pre-application discussions” with SWIP in which it laid out “very clearly” the traffic modelling requirements and network assessment the applicant had to examine in support of its proposal, but that assessment was “not included” when the plans were submitted and the quality of the document was “very poor”.

Mr Tugwell stated: “We were led to believe we had agreed with the applicant the scope of the work they could reasonably be expected to undertake. It is a matter of some regret that the programme of work we thought had been agreed has to date not been followed through by the applicant.”

He cited four key areas of concern: The number of vehicle trips estimated to the revamped centre, an “underestimation” of the area from which the new development will attract customers, assumptions made about the distribution of vehicle trips and concerns about the impact on roads including the A4260 Banbury.

OCC commissioned and paid for its own Transport Assessment but the matter could not be resolved before Thursday’s meeting.

Kahrene Lawrie issued a statement on behalf of SWIP saying it believes the traffic issues could have been resolved even if the council had approved the scheme as recommended by council planning officers, but added the firm fully supports Cherwell’s decision and will continue to work with the Highways department to provide evidence .

The plans will now be considered on February 6.