ALMOST 300 new homes could be built in Littlemore after Oxford city councillors approved outline planning permission.

Councillors on the planning review committee overturned an earlier decision by the East Area Planning Committee to reject the scheme for the site near Armstrong Road.

The scheme, put forward by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, would see 104 houses and 166 flats built on land next to the former Littlemore hospital.

Officers told the committee on Wednesday there were no reasonable grounds for turning it down as it met the city council’s own guidelines.

Committee member Colin Cook, who backed the scheme, said: “We have before us an outline application.

“The applicants could have given us a red line around the site and said they wanted to build 270 homes there.

“They have gone much further than that.

“They have not crossed the Is and dotted the Ts but that is their right.”

He added: “This site has got a long way to go but we want to give the applicant the assurance that they have our support in the direction in which they are travelling.”

Concerns that residents of the new estate would be “isolated” due to poor public transport links and poor access led Oxford City Council’s East area planning committee to initially refuse the outline application.

The approved application has two conditions, one which states any future housing on the site should have some homes set aside for NHS staff, and another which asked for £795 per household to be spent on improving transport links for cyclists and pedestrians to the rest of Littlemore.

Councillor David Henwood, who lives in Littlemore, said this wasn’t enough.

He said: “I’m very disappointed – we are left with no real benefit to Littlemore.

“We are losing our 12C bus service in May and the CIL money will resume it in June – it’s one step forward, one step back.

He added: “One of the problems is the density of the housing.

“The city council’s expectation is to reduce the number of car journeys but the furthest part of the estate would be a 20-minute walk from Sainsbury’s.

“Fifty per cent would be social housing and it would put major pressure on these families.”

There were initially concerns about unmarked graves on the site, which contained the bodies of patients who died in the 19th century at the former mental hospital.

Those fears were allayed when the hospital trust made it clear it had no plans to build on the parts of the site where bodies were buried.