The £200 million redevelopment of Oxford’s Clarendon Shopping Centre has been unanimously approved by the city council.
Lothbury Investment Management expects work to start this year on turning the centre, built in 1983, into a mix of offices, laboratories, student accommodation, retail outlets and restaurants in a scheme totalling 250,000 sq ft.
There will also be a new public square and pedestrian/cycle access through to Frewin Court.
Oxford City Council’s planning committee approved the plans at its April 12 meeting.
Adam Smith, executive director for Lothbury Investment Management, which has managed the centre since it opened, said the firm is able identify long term trends and base its investment decisions on future growth rather than immediate investment returns.
The changing retail scene was a key factor in the redevelopment proposals.
Mr Smith went on: “The changes have been accelerated in recent years and were felt acutely at the Clarendon because of the increased supply of retail units brought about by the opening of the Westgate Centre.
“What all of this means is that the Clarendon needs to change and we at Lothbury believe that our proposals are not only good for the Clarendon and the city centre, but for Oxford as a whole.”
He said new high-value jobs will be created ‘in the heart of the city centre, not in suburbs or out-of-town research parks’.
He added: “Similarly, the offices will add to the vibrancy of the city centre with new employees adding to both the day and night economies with the new student beds, effectively providing on-campus accommodation, thereby releasing much-needed private rental accommodation back to the market.”
Cllr Alex Hollingsworth commended the architects and said it is unusual for the committee to be deciding on a scheme which improves the city’s historic skyline rather than reduces it.
And he suggested the new route through Frewin Court is to be welcomed.
He added: “Anyone who is familiar with the current use of the stub of Frewin Court, will note that its primary use is as a toilet and a place to take illegal drugs. I think the difference between what is there now and what this development will bring is dramatic.”
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