A DEVELOPER who has made numerous attempts to build houses on a former sports field in Cowley has been told to call it a day.

Cantay Estates is currently making its fourth attempt to develop the sports pitch in William Morris Close after three previous bids have been rejected.

Its latest attempt involves building seven homes on the parking area rather than on the pitch itself.

But this has been given the cold shoulder by Oxford City Council planning officers who have said the application should be rejected.

City planning officer Fiona Bartholomew said: “The site retains the potential to help meet the city’s outdoor recreational needs and is not surplus to recreational requirements. No replacement recreational facilities are proposed.

“It is not essential to develop housing on this site to meet housing land availability requirements, and there are no other mitigating or balancing reasons why housing should be developed on this site.”

A final decision will be made by the east area planning committee when it meets on Wednesday.

Ahead of the meeting, city councillor for Cowley Marsh Saj Malik said that the land should be offered up to the nearby school or local sports clubs.

He said: “If the sports pitch was up for grabs I am sure many people would come forward.

“These plans have no support whatsoever.

“The developer knew that the city council wouldn’t want to see the site developed but they bought the land and took a risk.

“This latest planning application is a sign of desperation.”

Judith Harley, of the Old Temple Cowley Residents Association, said: “Although the land considered for this development is brownfield (the existing car park) it is still identified as protected open space in the local plan.

“It is not acceptable to take any of the identified open space for residential development as Oxford is already deficient in open space, especially for sports facilities. This is contrary to the local plan and completely unacceptable.”

Normandy Crescent resident Bob Timbs, a former city councillor for Lye Valley, said: “The area is designated that there will be no more building allowed there and it should be left alone.

“The school is bringing in extra cars and it is upsetting people in the area so any other development will only make matters worse.”

Cantay Estates, which is based in Park End Street, bought the club site, which has been standing empty for four years, in 2012.

The club was founded for car workers and their families as the Morris Motors Sports and Athletics Club soon after William Morris set up his Cowley factory in 1913.

It closed in 2009 with debts of £3m, just two years after moving into a new building in Temple Cowley.

Cantay agreed to sell the club building to the Tyndale Commu-nity School, which opened in September, but it has failed to be able to redevelop the rest of the site.

Three planning applications – for 43, 40 and 40 homes – have been refused by the city council. The second went to appeal but was thrown out by a government planning inspector.

The Oxford Mail contacted Cantay Estates but no one was available to comment.

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