PLANS to build 42 affordable homes and 82 student rooms in a gateway to Oxford city centre have been backed by councillors.

Oxford City Council’s west area planning committee granted permission for the Luther Court plan, which will see the current 1980s homes demolished, at a meeting on Wednesday night.

But a controversial plan to remove an unrestricted footpath from Luther Street to Thames Street and replace it with a gated footpath has yet to be determined.

Luther Street Medical Centre argued they needed the footpath as a route to transport patients without using the front entrance.

Paul Semple, from Luther Street Medical Centre, said: “A lot of people congregate at the Cromwell Street entrance and that can lead to conflicts.

“On a number of occasions it has been far easier for staff and some of the people being seen there to avoid crossing paths with those congregating in the courtyard and use the secondary exit. It avoids hostile situations.”

Nik Lyzba, on behalf of A2 Dominion, said: “There is no doubt this is a challenging environment for those who live there, the medical centre and also for the police, who really have difficulties in controlling crime and disorder in this particular area.”

He said the gated footpath was a shorter distance from the medical centre to Thames Street and was a “sensible” way of dealing with the situation.

Councillors approved the application but said work could not start until agreement had been reached about the footpath.