Oxford University is hoping to redevelop the former Alden Press building in Osney Mead.
The site is currently empty and since the university bought it, attempts to let it for commercial use have proved unsuccessful.
It now plans to redevelop part of the site so that it can be used as a temporary location for one of its departments and has submitted a planning application to Oxford City Council to do so.
In a statement the university said: “It is envisaged that the change of use will be applicable for a period not exceeding two years, following which it is anticipated that permission will be sought to reinstate to a business use class for commercial letting purposes.
“It is hoped that a fully-serviced and refurbished building will provide a more attractive opportunity for commercial letting purposes.”
The university has applied to change the use and make external alterations to the so-called green shed annexe of the building.
Alden Press was founded in 1832 to produce anti-slavery literature.
It moved to Witney from the Osney Mead industrial estate in Oxford eight years ago.
A decision on the planning application will be made by city council officers at a date yet to be set.