PEOPLE living in West Oxford raised concerns that plans for 100 student rooms would change the character of their area, a planning inquiry heard yesterday.

Developer HXRUK3 Ltd wants to convert a former office building, Innovation House in Mill Street, into rooms for students.

Residents are worried about the impact the influx of students would have on the area.

The original proposal for Innovation House was turned down in March, but the developer is appealing the decision having reworked its plans, which may now offer accommodation for 16- to 18-year-olds, rather than postgraduates.

The firm says the planned change of use is no different from when Bellerbys College took over nearby Trajan House in Mill Street in September 2010. The city council allowed a change from business to education.

Councillor for the Jericho and Osney Ward Susanna Pressel suggested students were changing the character of the area.

She said: “The community is under threat because of the influx of students.

“At the moment Bellerbys students are staying in family homes and families would be giving up that income.

“I’m convinced this can remain a place for a business.”

The hearing was expected to finish last night.