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OxLEP CHIEF EXECUTIVE SAYS WESTGATE OXFORD IS A ‘WELCOME BOOST’ TO THE CITY

As Westgate Oxford yesterday opened its doors to the public, the chief executive of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership has welcomed its arrival and says the £440million redevelopment is a major boost to the city.

OxLEP chief executive Nigel Tipple says that – as well as attracting top-class retail, dining and entertainment to Oxford – the benefits of Westgate Oxford will be felt by many people, including the city’s independent retailers and those seeking employment.

It’s anticipated that 3,000 new jobs will be created through Westgate Oxford’s reopening and – with the additional footfall that’s anticipated to enter the city in the coming months – Mr Tipple believes existing independent retailers, such as those operating out of the city’s Covered Market, will also benefit.

Mr Tipple said: “Our overriding message is that the redevelopment of Westgate Oxford will bring a welcome boost to many different groups across the county and not just those with direct involvement.

“Undoubtedly – the city centre will be an even more attractive place to visit, with shoppers enjoying a first-class retail experience. That said – I am confident that, through Westgate Oxford, many will discover our excellent array of independent retailers across the city, as well as the dozens of tourist attractions we have in the city and across the county.

“This boost – particularly in the lead-up to the Christmas period – can only be welcome news for the city economy.”

Mr Tipple added that the boost in new jobs at Westgate Oxford – including the introduction of several new apprenticeship programmes – will have a positive effect on employment opportunities, not just for the city but the wider region too.

He said: “We are proud to have been closely involved in the development of a Community Employment Plan for Westgate Oxford, ensuring that Oxfordshire residents are benefitting from job opportunities.

“This has been achieved thanks to two schemes we agreed in 2013 with Land Sec. The initiatives have helped around 750 Oxfordshire residents into training, apprenticeships and work at Westgate Oxford.

“We hope this will be a lasting legacy of the redevelopment.”

Mr Tipple believes that Westgate Oxford is a further example of Oxfordshire demonstrating its ‘dynamic economic growth’, with many investors – both nationally and internationally – seeing the city and wider county as a viable and attractive location to set-up home.

Earlier this month, property consultancy Bidwells announced that in the first six months of this financial year – business space requirements in Oxfordshire increased by 74%, reaching a half-year record high of 225,000 square feet across the county.

The demand for Oxfordshire business space coincided with the allocation of £15.6million-worth of central government funding – also committed in the first half of the financial year – supporting the development of the Northern Perimeter Road in Didcot and Lodge Hill junction in north Abingdon.

Mr Tipple added: “Last summer, we saw considerable funding secured for crucial infrastructure development, demonstrating that Oxfordshire is playing a key role in driving forward the wider UK economy.

“Having such a vibrant economic climate that embraces dynamic growth and supports large-scale development, like Westgate Oxford, is vitally important – but so is the need for it to be underpinned by coordinated infrastructure investment across the county.”

For more information on OxLEP – go to: www.oxfordshirelep.com.