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The original Westgate Centre was built between 1970 and 1972 by Taylor Woodrow; the redeveloped Centre opened in Autumn 2017 and represents the largest single development in Oxford’s history.

It has 100 shops spread over three storeys, which include a flagship 142,000 ft2 John Lewis store, 25 restaurants and cafes, a five-screen cinema and 61 residential flats, as well as a new landscaped walkway and two major public squares.


The city’s expanded retail provision supports the role of the city centre as a designated regional centre. Westgate is one of the most environmentally friendly shopping centres in the UK, with stringent sustainability targets including a full long-term embodied carbon analysis, a UK first for a retail centre.

SDS worked closely with Waterman Group who were commissioned to provide multidisciplinary services covering structural, civil engineering, environmental and flood risk services.

Work commenced on site in February 2015 including construction of a 1,000 space, two level car parking facility with a combined footprint of 45,000m².

SDS Case Studies Westgate Shopping Centre


As part of the sustainability strategy, no pumping is allowed on site, requiring part of the enabling works to include a 2m² culvert to divert captured rainwater via a major system of attenuation tanks into Castle Mill Stream.

With the capacity to store up to 950m³ of water, the SDS GEOlight® geocellular attenuation tanks have been suspended above the basement car park and beneath the John Lewis store. The tanks located beneath the footpath that adjoins the bus link road are ultra-high strength GEOlight® 800. In order to meet demands for their longevity, the tanks are required to have a minimum design life of 60 years.

The tanked basement and service yard has been designed to take 600mm depth of flood water. The second level basement car park has the potential for use as a flood water storage area, should this ever be required. Furthermore, attenuation ensures the surface water discharged will be no greater than the pre-existing situation and will cater for the effects of climate change.


The inherent flexibility of GEOlight® systems meant that SDS alone was able to meet the client’s brief.

As the scheme is founded on Oxford clay, ground conditions and the extensive basement precluded the potential for infiltration basins, wet ponds, swales and constructed wetlands, filter drains, perforated pipes and filter strips. The most viable solutions were identified as living roofs, rainwater harvesting and attenuation tanks. As the site was located next to a river, the tanking system was required to prevent lateral water movement.

The principle of sustainability is fundamental to the development of Westgate Shopping Centre and the adherence to this principle provided the surface water drainage requirements with a number of difficulties to overcome. In close co-operation with SDS, a unique solution was established, comprising a combination of attenuation tanks, suspended above the basement car park and sandwiched between down stand beams and ground floor slab.


litres stormwater storage capacity


year min design life


square metres of car parking

Having researched extensively the options available to us it became apparent that only SDS was able to conceive and engineer an effective solution and also undertake its manufacture and installation.

Harry Chetty, Senior Associate Director, Waterman Infrastructure & Environment Ltd

Download the full case study here

SDS GEOlight Stormwater Storage

SDS GEOlight®

SDS GEOlight® is an ultra-lightweight honeycombed modular structure made from recycled PVC. The ready to install units are preformed to provide an underground stormwater storage facility, for the application of stromwater management.

SDS GEOlight® is an ideal material for cost efficient and maintainable underground water storage during storm conditions. It is constructed entirely from post-consumer recycled PVC waste, which is normally destined for landfill.

It can also be applied in many different ways, including water recycling, water pollution control and embankment protection.


Discover how the SDS portfolio can benefit your development and get in touch now.