Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 15:35 UK

Historic yard plan inquiry begins

Boatyard protest
Dozens of campaigners gathered outside Oxford Town Hall

Campaigners who want to save a historic boatyard in Oxford held a silent protest as an inquiry into plans to build 45 flats on the site began.

The inquiry is an appeal by developers Spring Residential, after the city council rejected their plans for Castle Mill, Jericho, last year.

Dozens of protesters called for the council's decision to be upheld.

Author Phillip Pullman joined the protest into the development of the 160-year-old site, outside town hall.

In 2005, campaigners barricaded themselves into the boatyard to stop bailiffs clearing the site after British Waterways sold it to developers.

They were evicted from the site in 2007, but vowed to carry on fighting the plans to turn the area into luxury flats.

Since then the Castle Mill site has been boarded up and empty.

On Tuesday, protesters gathered outside Oxford Town Hall calling for the council's decision to be upheld.

Boatyard site
The Castle Mill site has been boarded up since 2007

Campaigner Adrian Arbib told BBC News: "We're putting up such a strong fight and we've put nearly 50, 60,000 pounds of our own money, community money, into to taking these guys on."

The boatyard inspired novelist Mr Pullman in his trilogy, His Dark Materials, the first part of which has been made into the film The Golden Compass.

Mr Pullman said: "I don't want to see this interesting, valuable, human, little corner of the city wiped out.

"Parts of the canal are already given over to nothing but great canyons of housing on either side. Let's preserve the little bits that are left."

He was also among the group of protesters who attended the first silent demonstration outside the town hall last December, when the council's central south and west area committee refused planning permission to Spring Residential.

Historic yard proposal rejected
12 Dec 07 |  Oxfordshire
Author's plea over historic yard
11 Dec 07 |  Oxfordshire
Author joins boatyard campaigners
01 Oct 07 |  Oxfordshire
Boatyard protestors refuse to go
15 May 06 |  Oxfordshire
Water bosses vow to sell boatyard
01 Mar 06 |  Oxfordshire
Historic boatyard wins reprieve
08 Aug 05 |  Oxfordshire
Protesters fight to save boatyard
02 Aug 05 |  Oxfordshire

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Banbury Cake Affordable homes at centre of boatyard inquiry - 1 hr ago
Bicester Advertiser Affordable homes at centre of boatyard inquiry - 2 hrs ago
Oxford Mail 200 protest against development - 50 hrs ago

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