A FORMER paper mill site could be sold off after its owners’ vision for the site was criticised.

Oxford University is now considering selling off its former paper mill land in Wolvercote, but without planning permission, after a large number of objections were made to a proposal for new homes to be built.

The university had submitted a planning application for 190 homes to Oxford City Council.

But following a series of objections, including about potential traffic impact, the university has said that instead it is considering selling the 17-acre plot of land without planning permission.

University spokesman Matt Pickles said: “The university is currently reviewing the proposed way forward in respect of the Wolvercote paper mill site.

“As a result of the large number of objections submitted in response to the application, the university is considering whether or not it wishes to proceed with the application as submitted, whether it should amend it, or whether it should consider disposing of the site without resolving planning.”

He added that it hoped to make a decision on the potential sale next month.

Last year it was estimated the site could be worth £30m.

The mill was demolished 2004 and the university put forward plans the following year for a £40m development scheme, including 200 homes for staff, but these were scaled back and then eventually shelved.

Residents have been keen to work with the university to find an “acceptable” way forward for the original plans.

Chairman of the Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum John Bleach said: “I think it would be disappointing if it was sold because we had the ear of the university and they had been very sympathetic to the community.

“It would be difficult for us to establish as good a relationship as we had with them with new people. The university’s proposals could have been made acceptable, for sure.”

The university’s plans for the site were submitted to the city council in July last year and earlier this year the plans were being looked at again in the wake of the objections.

Production of paper at Wolvercote dated back to at least 1674 and it was claimed that during the 18th century it made the best white paper in England.

The mill was bought by Oxford University Press in 1870 and continued to supply OUP with paper until the mill’s closure in 1998.