THE manager of an Oxford music venue saved from closure after a popular campaign said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the club was here to stay – and that it was “business as usual”.

Music lovers celebrated this week when a planning application to close it and turn it into a shop was withdrawn by its owners.

Landlord St Michael’s and All Saints Charities had applied to Oxford City Council for permission to redevelop the basement club, off Cornmarket, after Lush, which is in the shop above, moves into the new Westgate centre.

A petition opposing the plan gathered more than 13,600 names.

Mr Hopkins said: “We haven’t heard from our landlords, but we know it has been dropped. I don’t want to count my chickens before they’ve hatched but I am cautiously optimistic that we are here to stay - and I’m very happy.

“It’s really positive and is a step in the right direction. It also means we can continue putting on live music in the city centre. It’s business as usual, and we want people to celebrate the fact we are staying by coming along to our gigs. Use it or lose it.”

The day before the application was withdrawn, the owners defended their plans, arguing that redeveloping the property would allow the organisation to hand out more grants to charities.

In a letter to our sister paper The Oxford Times, clerk to the trustees, Rupert Sheppard said: "I have received many eloquent and heartfelt messages supporting the Cellar.

"The building belongs to St Michael’s and All Saints’ Charities, a local charity whose income is spent mainly on relieving poverty and deprivation around Oxford.

"About 125 grants totalling over £500,000 are awarded annually to charities addressing, among many needs, homelessness, domestic abuse, relationship breakdown, special educational needs, community centres, loneliness, refugees and health. Numerous letters of thanks and appreciation show that these grants are highly valued.

"Although prosperous, Oxford is also characterised by considerable deprivation. Many charities exist to combat this. They are very focussed and their volunteers and staff are extraordinarily dedicated. The many homeless now on our streets are a visible sign of the problems they are addressing.

"Exacerbated by government cuts, these charities’ need for financial assistance has probably never been greater. As a body supporting them, St Michael's and All Saints' Charities are seeking ways to increase the grants they can award. Their plans for 51 Cornmarket, if implemented, are part of this.

"Strong representations have been made regarding the Cellar. The trustees regularly receive persuasive requests for support from other causes. I know that in considering their options, the trustees will take account of the interests of the wider community of which music fans are part.

"I am sure many in the music community campaigning for The Cellar would also want Oxford to be a city supporting the most vulnerable members of its community. How wonderful if their campaign could also be used to highlight the positive work of the charities we support across the city.”