COUNTRYSIDE campaigners have made a last minute plea for planners to ditch a 136-home plan for Botley.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said the Lime Road plan could ruin views of the city.

Developers are close to securing planning permission for the long-mooted development.

But campaigners say the three-storey homes would be too high and would be “reminiscent” of a row over student flats at Oxford’s Port Meadow.

It comes after a controversial row over the height of the 312-room Castle Mill student housing block finished this year in Roger Dudman Way.

County CPRE director Helen Marshall said: “There are ominous reminiscences of the Port Meadow fiasco.”

In a letter to planning authority Vale of White Horse District Council, she wrote: “The development abuts the Green Belt and is visible from many nearby vantage points. Any three-storey buildings would therefore be wholly out of place.”

She added: “The furore in Oxford in respect of the development at Port Meadow would not have escaped the council’s attention, and the Vale will be aware of the widespread disquiet among local residents at Harcourt Hill.

“The Oxford skyline would clearly be most unfortunately affected if the development went ahead.”

The scheme was approved in principle in 2007, but the council ruled building could not start until Thames Water improved drainage and sewer networks in a £7m scheme.

Bovis Homes had to resubmit its plans as permission had expired and outline planning permission for the scheme was given in February.

But a decision was delayed in July after concerns were raised over the design.

After a planning meeting earlier this month the decision was delegated to commmittee chairman Robert Sharp. But Lime Road resident John Marriott said the community was still concerned about the height of the buildings.

He said a major concern was road safety because of the extra traffic the development would generate – especially close to the Matthew Arnold School in Arnold’s Way.

He said: “It seems they have had years to come up with these plans and the residents feel they could do something better.”

Council spokesman Andy Roberts said the application is still being assessed and comments from the CPRE will be taking into considered. A decision was expected in the next two weeks.

Bovis Homes spokesman Scott Curtis said after consultation the height of the buildings had been lowered, and taller ones repositioned away from the edge of the development to prevent the overlooking Lime Road properties.