A FRESH bid has been made to replace East Oxford employment land that was lost two years ago.

A developer has applied to demolish the remaining part of the former Travis Perkins builders’ merchants in Collins Street for offices and 31 flats.

A student block of 190 flats has been built at the site since Travis Perkins left in 2012. Council permission also existed for offices but expired.

Buckinghamshire developer WE Black has now applied to Oxford City Council for a four-storey office block with flats.

It said there was “no interest” in offices when it got permission in 2009. The student rooms were built by housing association A2 Dominion last year.

Its application says: “The development includes affordable homes as well as market homes.

“It provides the opportunity to make efficient use of the site and to provide more homes than would otherwise be possible.”

It said it meets city council policies by having no car parking and being in an area earmarked for homes and businesses.

Ablett Close resident Chris Honeywell, 65, said: “This was a prime employment site when it was Travis Perkins, so the applicants got around that by applying to build an office block with the accommodation.

“I’m completely cynical now. I think the developers just want to build more accommodation so they’re trying to get past the planners by adding an office block again. I would like to see employment anywhere.”

Former Iffley Fields city councillor David Williams said he welcomed the plans.

He said: “We were very sceptical about the potential idea of student flats because it would mean losing job prospects in a commercial space.

“What we really want here is high-paid, high tech jobs all the time. We live in the age of intellectual property, and I would like to see more research and development jobs in Oxford. That is what we are really good at.”

Travis Perkins moved to Sandy Lane West, Blackbird Leys.

The council is due to make a decision on the application by Monday, July 14.

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