COWLEY has been called the "biggest parking space in Britain" as householders are offered the chance to clear their crowded streets.

A survey is asking whether a controlled parking zone (CPZ) should be installed in the area, which would ban drivers from leaving their cars on designated streets unless they have a resident permit.

It has been handed out by Cowley councillors John Sanders, Christine Simm and David Henwood in response to growing concerns over parking in the area.

Oxford city councillor Mr Henwood explained: "It has got really bad. There has been more than one occasion where a car has been parked in someone's driveway all day and essentially used as a free parking space.

"You will get people leaving their car in Cowley and then commuting into the centre of Oxford. At the moment it is being treated as the biggest parking space in Britain."

However, permits would not be free and residents would have to pay upwards of £60 a year to park near their homes.

A letter sent out with the survey outlines the pros and cons of the scheme, with disadvantages including the cost to local car owners and the potential of pushing the problem to the outskirts of the CPZ zone.

Residents were originally asked about the issue in a 2014 survey but at the time narrowly opposed having the county council enforce a CPZ.

A letter from the ward's three councillors, included with the survey, said they believed people may have now changed their minds about the issue in light of increased pressure from new development in the area, including the £60m Templar Square regeneration, which includes plans for 200 new homes.

Mr Henwood said he had initially been reluctant to back a ban but had been persuaded it was the only way to tackle the problem.

He explained: "It is archaic and draconian but, unfortunately, people don't seem to break their mindset with this kind of thing unless there is an enforceable punishment.

"There is a level of flexibility there as well, with the ban only being in place during the day time and the possibility to remove it in the future."

Hundreds of surveys have already been returned but the councillor said there was currently no clear preference.

The Cowley ward councillor added: "From what I've seen so far it is very finely balanced between the two, though each side has very strong opinions."

He urged any residents who felt passionately about the issue to have their say and said it would have a direct impact on the next steps councillors take.

He explained: "If, for instance, a street overwhelmingly doesn't want a CPZ then it could be removed. It doesn't have to be a blanket ban and we will look closely at the responses we receive."

The border for the current proposed area would be Phipps Road, Garsington Road, Between Towns Road, Crowell Road and Bartholomew Road.

If a majority is ultimately in favour Mr Henwood said councillors would immediately apply to Oxfordshire County Council to start the formal process to install a CPZ.

Surveys must be returned to The Venue on Barns Road and marked CPZ Survey by Friday.