A BID to turn an Old Marston farm into a leisure facility has sparked concerns that it could lead to more development in the rural area.

Ranjit Ryatt wants to use Hill View Farm, Mill Lane, for functions like private parties, meetings, seminars and social events.

There are fears it could set a precedent for the village.

Mr Ryatt has asked Oxford City Council if the plan could fall under new laws that allow small-scale developments without planning permission.

Old Marston Parish Council chairman Charlie Haynes, right, said: “We are most concerned.

“The farm is on Green Belt land and the buildings have been used for years for agricultural purposes.

“It is a narrow road at the end of the village.

“There will be a lot of traffic generated.”

The plan is for a stone barn and two barns at the site and Mr Ryatt pledges there will be no fees for Marston groups.

The two stables will be converted into toilets plus a kitchen and dining room.

This will mean that its official designation will alter from agricultural to D2, allowing use for “assembly and leisure”.

Peter Browning, 37, of Sane Road, said: “Turning the last remaining big farm within the city limits into yet another venue would be a disaster for locals who have campaigned to preserve Old Marston’s semi-rural character.”

He said: “Farms are for horses, hens and kids playing in the hay, not corporate training centres and busloads of Londoners.”

Mr Ryatt, from Minster Lovell, said he did not expect the development to set a precedent.

He said: “The current planning conditions for the property are strict. Nothing new is going to be permitted there.

“It will be used for the community as I don’t know where the nearest community centre is. “The number of cars will be few and far between.”

Mr Ryatt was involved in a bid to find Oxford’s Sikh community a new home after the city council said a Cherwell Drive, Marston, property lacked permission to be used as a place of worship.

New premises were found in Headington, and while the Old Marston plan lists Sikhs4Oxford Ltd as having an interest in the land, he said this was only as investors.

Mr Ryatt added: “It is not going to be confined to any specific racial group. It is for the whole community.”