FAMILIES and businesses have already been evicted from a site earmarked for a 180-bedroom EasyHotel in Summertown as the project gathers pace, despite not yet having planning permission.

The budget hotel would be built in Banbury Road on the site currently occupied by Majestic Wine and estate agents Knight Frank and Wallers of Oxford as well as five flats above.

EasyHotel signed a 25-year lease on the site in June last year, and now The Oxford Times has learned that tenants living in flats have been told to leave by May 31 and several have already moved out - with demolition due to begin next month.

The project prompted more than 250 objections from residents, businesses and schools and the developers said it was altering plans as a result.

But new plans are yet to emerge and would need to be consulted upon for at least 21 days before being decided by a committee.

Stewart Richardson had lived in one of the Gordon House flats for 28 years but moved out last week to a house in Northway.

The 56-year-old school caretaker said: “It came out of the blue really, we were told of a plan to redevelop the Majestic Wine unit and then suddenly told it would be a hotel and that we had to leave.

“There was certainly shock among those living in the flats - there are still families left in two of the flats.”

Mr Richardson said there was ‘frustration’ that the evictions had come when the hotel plan was still up in the air.

Summertown city councillor Andrew Gant has led calls for the plans to be scrapped for a number of reasons, including the loss of five residential units and said it was ‘premature’ to evict people before planning had been granted.

A mother-of-three living in one of the flats, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was struggling to find a new home.

She said: “It’s not nice - I have three children who all go to school close by so we want to stay nearby but we are still looking.

“I don’t think it’s unfair, they are the landlords they have the right to say that.

“They have been very helpful and have said if we don’t find anywhere by May 31 we can stay for a bit longer.”

Rowan Waller, managing director of Wallers of Oxford estate agents, said his one-year lease would end on June 5.

With a number of branches across the city including another in Summertown, he said they would take their time with finding a new location and that the hotel could end up being good for the area.

He said: “I’m not opposed to the idea of a hotel, even a big one, in Summertown if it’s done well.

“There a number of empty shops and businesses under threat and it would bring visitors to the high street.”

Mr Waller added that his firm asked to remain for longer but were told preparatory work needed to begin.

More than 250 objections were made against the initial plans, submitted at the end of last year.

Concerns were raised over traffic, parking and privacy with some of the rooms potentially looking directly into the proposed Summerfields Pre-prep school and nearby offices.

The Summertown and St Margaret’s neighbourhood forum group said the hotel would ‘exacerbate’ the area’s traffic, parking and pollution problems.

It said: “The hotel will increase traffic congestion in Summertown.

“Banbury Road is a pollution hotspot – increased traffic associated with the hotel and idling engines of taxis and coaches picking up and dropping guests can only make this worse.”

Oxford Civic Society argued the site could make a significant contribution to the city’s ‘chronic housing shortage’.

Oxfordshire County Council criticised the proposals on transport grounds but didn’t object to the principle of a hotel.

EasyHotel failed to respond to a request for comment but its planning agent DPP Planning told The Oxford Times in February the designs were being altered.