PLANS to build an 885-room student halls of residence on the Cowley Barracks site could be approved tonight despite concerns over parking and calls for more affordable housing.

Oxfordshire County Council said the only way to enforce a 'no car policy' in surrounding streets was by installing a controlled parking zone (CPZ) – but Oxford City Council said it could not ask for developers to contribute towards the cost of one.

As the project will help Oxford Brookes University towards its goal of having no more than 3,000 students in private housing – it currently has 4,180 – it is exempt from having to provide or contribute to affordable housing.

Other schemes build in the city are required to be 50 per cent affordable, although exemptions can be made.

Chairman of Bullingdon Community Association, Steve Dawe, said the area really needed affordable housing and homes for key workers, such as nurses and teachers.

Mr Dawe said the Oxford Brookes campus at Wheatley should be used instead for its students.

He said: "There is no pressing need to use this particular site for students.

"Our association is well aware that most housing provided in recent years in our area is not affordable to buy or rent.

"We specifically recognise a need for housing that meets the needs of key workers such as nurses and teachers – both of which the city is not succeeding in retaining at present due to high housing costs."

Student accommodation provider Unite Students and Oxford Brookes want to open up the former military barracks off James Wolfe Road to create an 885-room student block.

The 'high quality' complex is planned to be 'car-free' – except for 16 disabled parking spaces and others for staff.

But there are worries the numbers of vehicles cannot be monitored by the university and that nearby streets could end up clogged by students' cars during term time.

Labour county councillor for Churchill and Lye Valley, Liz Brighouse, said it would be difficult to police the 'no car policy' among students.

She said: "Evidence from residents and Brookes is that residents who complain are told to take the car numbers and forward them to the university – but only if the student has registered their car can they be identified and disciplined."

She added that the policy would make it less likely for students to register their cars.

The university has taken disciplinary action against 90 students who parked contrary to its guidelines in the last five years.

Funding a CPZ does not come under the 'neighbourhood level infrastructure' set aside for developer contributions, but Unite Students it would consider paying some of the cost.

Unite Students said: "Unite Students and Oxford Brookes University manage their residential sites very robustly and tenancy agreements are enforced, which includes a clause prohibiting residents from bringing a car to the site or to Oxford."

City council planners said it was an 'effective use' of land designated for student accommodation and that the tenancy agreements over parking meant it was compliant.

Councillors will be asked to decide on the plans at 6pm tonight at the Town Hall.