Project in review: Oxford’s £440m Westgate shopping centre13th February 2018
Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford reopened in October 2017 after the 1970s built centre was demolished in 2016. The £440m development now offers shoppers a host of contemporary brands to shop from, as well as a variety of food and drink destinations – including the ever-popular Junk Yard Golf Club. According to the Westgate Oxford Alliance, the newly built shopping centre will welcome approximately 15m people annually, creating 3,500 full time jobs. The shopping centre covers around 800,000 sq. ft (74,300m2), 11,000m2 of which is new paving.
The essence of the scheme was to create a new, modern retail sector in the heart of the city. Oxford City Council came to this conclusion after assessing the positive impact of new shopping centres in other cities – particularly the increase of footfall in and around the developed area. John Lewis was the anchor store that allowed the development to bring in high end brands and create the new shopping destination. In addition to the complete refurbishment of the old Westgate centre, there was also a substantial section of public realm improvements involved in the redevelopment.
For Hardscape one of the main challenges faced when supplying material to the scheme was keeping the granite consistent with the sample panels presented. Short lead ins from procurement as new areas were released for construction meant that Hardscape had to deliver to exacting requirements. This was overcome using two different solutions. Firstly, by expediting some of the granite from China, Hardscape was able to cut the delivery time by 3-4 weeks. And secondly, Hardscape carried stock of large slabs that could then cut down to smaller slabs and tiles as and when the project needed it. Administrators worked closely with the site team to process over 70 individual orders, each accompanied with cutting schedules to the various factories quickly.
Flamed and brushed granite was used internally for the arcades, featuring two different colours (Kobra and Royal White). The same granite had previously been supplied to other schemes in Oxford as it provides excellent technical characteristics, to add to the consistent aesthetic, as well as the material having excellent technical characteristics, but this also helped create a consistent aesthetic throughout the city.
An estimated 11,000 m2 of paving was supplied for the project, including Granite, Prima Porphyry and Yorkstone. Granite colours such as Kobra, Royal White, Portington and Crystal Black were used both internally and externally. For the public spaces and streets around the Westgate centre, Gillespies specified Hardscape black granite kerbs for the roadways and some edge and step ramping, along with granite cladding for a large raised planting area and seating wall. The Yorkstone was supplied by Johnson Wellfield Quarries Ltd.
Following 15 years of planning and design, this redevelopment project finally came to fruition in 2017 and the local authority hasn’t looked back since! The Westgate centre is already bringing higher footfall and a fresh vibe to the traditionally historic city of Oxford. All in all, this is a stunning piece of public realm and modern architecture set within a historic ancient city setting, delivering a vibrant new retail and leisure experience.