PLANS for a new private radiotherapy centre in Oxford have been approved, despite objections from hospital chiefs.

Senior doctors at the Oxford University Hospitals Trust and the Churchill Hospital expressed concerns that staff could be poached by the new Cancer Partners facility, planned for Beaumont House in Littlemore.

But the proposals for the new centre on the former Royal Mail site were approved tonight by members of the Oxford City Council east area planning committee.

Littlemore councillor John Tanner tried to sink the application on the grounds that more people could be employed if the site continued to be used as offices, than if it became a health centre.

He said: "We should be cautious about rushing to the first employer who wants to use the site. I'd like to propose that we reject the application on the grounds it's a loss of employment space."

He said the property may have been empty for eight years because it had been marketed at an inappropriately high price.

But Roy Darke, chairman of the committee, said the council could lose a lot of money if a refusal was appealed and the authority lost. Mr Tanner's motion was then lost.

The plans were eventually approved by three votes to two. However Van Coulter said he voted in favour reluctantly.

He said: "I do hope most sincerely that the proprietors of this organisation do not poach staff from the local market."

In a letter of objection, Oxford University Hospitals chief executive Sir Jonathan Michael described the new centre as “unnecessary”.

He said: “You are no doubt aware that in 2009 a £109m cancer centre was opened on the Churchill Hospital site with six state-of-the-art radiotherapy treatment machines, a dedicated treatment planning suite, a 42 chair chemotherapy day case unit and inpatient wards for haematology and oncology with a treatment suite for internal radiation treatments.

“I am concerned that the proposed employment of 18 expert staff, radiographers and chemotherapy nurses, in the Cancer Partners unit would destabilise recruitment and retention of these staff in the Churchill Hospital.”