AFTER a battle between two councils spanning more than a decade, this summer could spell the end for an empty housing block branded an “eyesore”

Oxfordshire County Council, which owns Marywood House in Wood Farm, Oxford, has revealed it will soon be putting the site on the market.

The council closed the building, formerly housing for people with learning difficulties, back in 2003 and ever since neighbours living near it have branded the site an “eyesore” calling for action to be taken.

It first applied for planning permission to develop the building into homes in May 2003 but the scheme was rejected by Oxford City Council because it did not include any social housing.

The county lodged an appeal which was dismissed by a planning inspector two years later.

In 2005, Oxford’s Local Plan, drawn up by the city council, said that the Leiden Road site could be used for housing but only if community and primary health care facilities were provided.

The county council has been attempting to include these facilities in the site and finally announced it had been able to do so in February last year.

Residents have been campaigning for something to happen with the building for years.

Wood Farm resident Pete Bonney, who lives in Nuffield Road said: “It is about time they sold it off. It is definitely an eyesore.

“I am looking forward to seeing it being put to good use.

“It has taken them years and it must be costing a fortune because they have still got security guards checking it.”

Last week the county council said it was planning to market the site this summer.

Spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “Details relating to a possible sale of the site would become clearer in due course.”

He did not specify whether the council would seek planning permission itself before selling the site off.

The site is likely to include social housing, which may be for people with mental health care needs, as well as private homes and some community facilities.

Mr Bonney says he hoped the site would be used for social housing.

Marywood House previously had 25 flats and was closed so the county council could sell it and reinvest the proceeds into social and health care.