Oxford Westgate Centre construction start date set

Artist's impression of new Westgate development Image copyright Westgate Oxford Alliance
Image caption The new Westgate site will boast more than 100 new shops

Work to transform one of Oxford's shopping centres into a £440m retail, leisure, and residential complex is due to at the end of the month.

The Westgate development in the city centre will eventually boast over 100 new shops, 25 restaurants and cafes, a boutique cinema and 61 luxury flats.

There will also be a 1,000-space underground car park, rooftop terrace dining and new public spaces.

The development is due for completion in autumn 2017.

Site owner Westgate Oxford Alliance, a joint venture between commercial property company Land Securities and The Crown Estate, has now appointed a principal contractor, Laing O'Rourke.

It said the development, covering 800,000 sq ft (74,322 sq m), would "create around 3,400 jobs in and around Oxford" when complete.

Preparatory work at Westgate began in February following planning approval by Oxford City Council.

The development had been criticised for the absence of affordable housing.

Westgate Oxford Alliance will instead contribute about £3m towards new affordable housing for the city.

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