A CITY planning chief has said he will put across the ‘strongest possible case’ to save well-loved Oxford music venue The Cellar.

There has been a wave of backlash since it was revealed that the popular basement venue off Cornmarket Street could close next year when Lush vacates its city centre shop.

After the move, St Michael's and All Saints' Charities, which owns the building, wants to change The Cellar into retail space and has submitted an application to the city council.

The organisation said recently that the decision could enable it to donate more money to good causes.

However, city councillors have backed The Cellar, with Alex Hollingsworth, city council executive board member for planning, saying he will fight the application.

The Labour councillor said: "When I was first elected as a councillor in the mid-1990s, I campaigned to save the Jericho Tavern from being turned into a theme pub, and – more successfully – to make sure that The Point was able to stay open and continue to deliver live music.

"The Cellar, and The Dolly as it was when I first went there more than 25 years ago, are key parts of the cultural tapestry of Oxford.

"I have called in this application so councillors will make the decision, and I’ll be putting the strongest possible case that this application can and should be refused.”