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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 14:44 GMT
Water bosses vow to sell boatyard
Boats on the Oxford Canal (pic courtesy of freefoto.com)
Protesters have been allowed to stay temporarily
Waterways bosses have vowed to sell an historic Oxford boatyard - despite allowing protesters to stay on site.

Demonstrators moved into Oxford's Castle Mill boatyard, in Jericho, to protest British Waterways' plans to sell the site for development.

British Waterways has allowed the occupiers stay on past a 28 February eviction deadline, but has revealed it still plans to sell the boatyard.

Protesters claimed bosses had "come to their senses" following the dispute.

A company spokesman said developers would still submit plans for flats and housing in the near future.

We didn't want to evict people and then have to spend money securing the site to stop them returning
Eugene Baston

Eugene Baston said: "We are close to negotiating a deal. The canal network is always changing and this is just another change.

"We certainly don't believe that it should be wrapped up as it is and preserved for all time, without reinvestment for the benefit of a wide range of canal users."

He added: "We didn't want to evict people and then have to spend money securing the site to stop them returning. It's a very pragmatic approach."

They've agreed to let the boaters stay on in the yard until a development plan that fulfils everybody's needs is produced.
Save Castle Mill Boatyard group

About 150 houseboat families would be affected by the sale of the boatyard, which featured in author Philip Pullman's children's trilogy, His Dark Materials.

In a statement posted on the Save Castle Mill Boatyard website, they said: "Finally British Waterways have come to their senses.

"They've agreed to let the boaters stay on in the yard until a development plan that fulfils everybody's needs is produced."

Previous development proposals have been rejected by Oxford City Council and a government planning inspector.

However, developer Bellway Homes is still interested in buying the 160-year-old site.


SEE ALSO:
Boatyard eviction case adjourned
26 Oct 05 |  Oxfordshire
Historic boatyard wins reprieve
08 Aug 05 |  Oxfordshire
Protesters fight to save boatyard
02 Aug 05 |  Oxfordshire


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