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Locals 'hope to buy boatyard'
Campaigners celebrating the dismissal of plans for a large block of flats on a former boatyard site in Jericho, announced they want to buy it.
A planning inspector ruled yesterday that Spring Residential's plans for 54 flats at the former Castle Mill boatyard site should not go ahead.
Developers Spring said they would draw up revised plans for the site but residents insisted they planned to buy it.
Jericho resident Adrian Arbib, who helped to lead the campaign against the development, said: "We now need to raise funds to buy the site for the community. The last thing we want is for developers to mothball it."
The planning inspector's decision followed a inquiry in August attended by hundreds of campaigners and supported by author Philip Pullman and Lewis actor Kevin Whately.
It is the second time developers have failed in their attempts to develop the site — three years ago, a Bellway Homes scheme was rejected at an inquiry.
Mr Arbib said there would now be a concerted effort to buy the site from Spring Residential — thought to have paid about £4m in 2006.
But Mr Arbib said he hoped residents would get it for less, following the downturn in the housing market.
He added: "The inspector's decision said an alternative boatyard site in Yarnton was too far away.
"We now need to remain in talks with Spring to try to buy the site.
"We could then lever in further funding from organisations like the Prince's Trust to provide a boatyard, a community centre and some affordable housing.
"The inspector has recognised Spring's design would have completely killed the area and was completely lacking in imagination."
Mr Pullman said the campaign needed a multi-millionaire to step in and support the community buyout.
Peter Strong, chairman of the Jericho Living Heritage Trust, which is co-ordinating finances for the campaign, added: "We realise the time for protesting is over now and what we require is some very gentle negotiation with Spring Residential to acquire the site."
Rebekah Paczek, a spokesman for Spring Residential, said: "Throughout the process, we have remained open to dialogue with the local community and will continue to engage in constructive discussions."