THE owner of a dilapidated East Oxford house has hit out at council plans that could force him to sell it.

Martin Young, 70, could be forced to sell 83 Cowley Road after leaving it empty for almost 20 years.

Oxford City Council’s city executive board said on Thursday it would look at options to revamp the building, including a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO).

It could allow the council to buy the three-storey Victorian terrace, believed to have been unoccupied since 1996, and then sell it for renovation and redevelopment.

Mr Young said: “I don’t think they consider how hard it is to be a one-man band operating in the free market.

“I’m not doing it to offend people. Of course it’s offensive to them but I can’t help it. I feel guilty about it, of course I do.

“I thought I was building up a nest egg for my retirement and now the council is making my life hell and trying to take if off me.”

Mr Young has had a longrunning battle with the council after repeated attempts to get planning permission for the demolition and expansion of his property at 29 Old High Street, Headington.

He said caring for his sick mother Evelyn Young from 2000 until she passed away in 2009 made him abandon immediate hopes of refurbishing his Cowley Road house.

And Mr Young said he was then forced to prioritise work on the Headington building.

But East Oxford traders have said something must be done to transform the neglected house blighting their community.

Lyudmyla Berenis, owner of Cowley Road’s Baltic Food store, opposite Mr Young’s property, said: “We just look in our windows and think ‘oh my God, how long can we see this view?’. I see it everyday and nothing has changed.”

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Avdeokrim Badache, owner of cafe Millefeuille also opposite, said the deserted building made the area look unsafe and feared his business could be targeted by vandals.

City councillor for St Clement’s Tom Hayes said he had received complaints about the abandoned building, which has planning permission for five flats.

He added: “I think it’s an eyesore. It stands out on Cowley Road, which is vibrant, dynamic and really quite beautiful.”

In his report to the board, corporate asset manager Mike Scott said there had been more than 20 reports of nuisance at the building since 2008, it was unsafe for officers to enter and had housed squatters over the past four years.

Mr Scott said the council was owed almost £3,000 after securing the property and clearing it of rubbish.

An Oxford City Council spokesman said CPOs are a “last resort” to bring empty properties back to life.

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