ALLOWING 54 new flats to be built in the centre of Kidlington would have a "detrimental effect on the vitality" of the village, according to villagers and councillors.

Plans to reduce the High Street Co-op by two thirds to make way for the new development were submitted in November last year.

More than 50 public comments have made on the application so far, with most objecting to the plans.

Among the complaints made by residents was the height of the building, which is split between three- and four-storeys.

It was also argued the flats would cause a significant loss of potential retail space, and there would not be enough parking spaces for flat owners.

Campaigner Alan Lodwick, from Kidlington Development Watch, said in a letter that the current plan only included one parking space per flat, there would be increased pressure on other residential streets.

He added: "The current application would result in a large and inaccessible private space in the heart of Kidlington.

"It would make it less attractive both economically and visually, less accessible and less ‘useable’."

In a joint statement county councillors Maurice Billington and Neil Prestidge said the size of the building would restrict the view of vehicles and large lorries and would not allow them enough room to turn on the site's Sterling Road approach.

The pair added: "Almost a third of essential retail space will be lost on this site.

"This is retail space that will never materialise again in our high street and there is no capacity to add more space to the street in the future.

"The loss of retail space will be detrimental to the vibrancy of our village and the Kidlington centre."

A decision on the application is expected to be made by Cherwell District Council in the next couple of months.

Developers met with residents at a public meeting at Exeter Hall to discuss the proposals in November last year.

Cantay managing director Tony Nolan confirmed the company were in discussions with planning officers about adjustments to the site.

But he said that any changes would be unlikely to be classed as "major".

He added: "We would not necessarily agree with the comments as we have stuck with current planning policy.

"We are looking at various adjustments, and will keep having talks with the district council."