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An intervention by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to block Haskoll's plans for an extension to the Westgate shopping centre in Oxford has been quashed by the High Court.

Prescott has lost a judicial review into his decision to oppose the Westgate scheme, against the advice of his own planning inspector and the wishes of the city council.

He objected to the scale and design of the 48,300m 2scheme - which includes a new department store,36 shops, cafés and restaurants and rooftop apartments - which he said 'would cause harm to the historic heart of Oxford'.

However, developer Westgate Partnership challenged Prescott's decision on four grounds, all of which were upheld by the court.

Richard Cable, development director of capital shopping centres, said the ruling 'was not a granting of consent, but a quashing of refusal'.But he added that changes had been made to the scheme that would address many of Prescott's concerns.

A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said the matter had not been closed, since there was 'always the possibility of an appeal'.

CABE examined the centre in July 2000, when it said the scheme gave the impression of a citadel and failed to use 'an architectural language appropriate to such a large piece of city'.

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