Camapigners hoping to halt a plan to redevelop Oxford's Castle Mill boatyard say a senior architect has vindicated their fight.
Residents opposing Spring Residential's plan to build 54 flats on the former British Waterways site in Jericho say they are not anti-development.
But they say that the proposed design is out of character with the area and will not enhance the historic canalside site.
More than 600 letters of objection have been received by Oxford City Council - including one from George Ferguson, a past president of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Mr Ferguson said: "It does seem to me that the current application is based on the false premise that this should be regarded as yet just another anywhere canalside residential scheme.
"It is a special site with its special history and activity as a working boatyard.
"The proposed development and its uninspiring public space totally fails to reflect this or to incorporate the sort of uses that will attract the traditional waterside activity that this site calls for."
Mr Ferguson called for the developers to go back to the drawing board.
He added: "I do hope that Oxford, as one of the most attractive cities in the country, of which Jericho is such an important part, will resist permitting this dull scheme that seems to have so little ambition on the architectural and sustainability front."
Campaigner Adrian Arbib said Mr Ferguson's views endorsed local residents' views.
He said: "It has vindicated what we have been saying. We're not doing this because we're personally against Spring, it's just the bad design."
He added that residents, who have conducted a high-profile campaign against the plans, were open to development ideas, but the current designs were totally inadequate.
"What we have been saying is we must try to put in community facilities and respect the heritage of the area, which Spring has not done," he said.
"If they did that, everything would be fine and we would not have this level of objection."
Since Spring Residential revealed its plans, campaigners have staged a number of protests outside the site.
The plans are under consideration by Oxford City Council.
No-one was available for comment at Spring Residential.