SUPERMARKET giant Tesco is aiming to sell off part of a site it spent years trying to turn into a shop.

The company has revealed it has put land behind the Fox and Hounds pub in South Oxford on the market.

Tesco will be selling the land without planning permission but will be marketing it as a potential housing development.

The patch of land sits between the former petrol station site and Peel Place and measures a fifth of an acre.

Tesco spokesman Simon Petar said: “It is surplus land and will be sold off for a mixed residential development.

“It is still our intention to build the store as soon as possible and when I have a firmer date I will inform the community.”

In January, after a four-year battle, Tesco was given planning permission to demolish the derelict pub, on the corner of Abingdon Road and Weirs Lane, and replace it with a three-storey building.

The ground-floor store will have four flats above it.

The local community was split over the plans, with some against the store’s impact on other local shops while others wanted to see the site put to good use.

The Rev Jane Sherwood, vicar of St Luke’s Church in Canning Crescent, said: “I have heard Tesco has had a really bad trading year so maybe that has something to do with it.

“The site is becoming dangerous.

“Something needs to be done with the land now and housing makes sense.

“It is crazy that they spent so much time battling over turning it into a store and now they are selling part of the site off.”

The Fox and Hounds has been empty since 2007.

It was bought by Tesco in 2008. Since then it has been the subject of a number of planning applications to create a shop at the site which were unsuccessful until this year.

The empty pub was badly damaged by a fire in 2009.

Chatham Road resident William Rankin said: “Anything is better than the eyesore we have got there now, and housing is something which is very much desired in Oxford.

“It was always in the pipeline that they had more land there than they needed.”

Tesco would not reveal how much it hopes to get for the piece of land it is selling.