AUTHOR Philip Pullman has given his backing to the latest attempt to redevelop the boatyard in Jericho, Oxford.

Mr Pullman, who lives in Cumnor and has backed the community campaign to see the site redeveloped, said he was “pretty well in favour” of the proposals being put forward by developer Strategic Iconic Assets Heritage Acquisition Fund (SIAHAF).

He said: “I feel strongly that this is an important part of Oxford’s present richness and complexity as well as its history.”

The boatyard and the nearby canal provided Mr Pullman with inspiration for his community of ‘gyptians’, a group of nomadic boat people who appear in the His Dark Materials trilogy.

Under fresh plans, a new community centre, a boatyard and housing could be built.

In addition, plans could see the construction of a swing bridge across the canal.

SIAHAF is closing in on a deal to buy the Castle Mill boatyard.

The firm held a public consultation on its proposals over the weekend.