A CITY centre petrol station which has served drivers in Oxford for decades is to close next month and will make way for a major new development.

Staff at the Esso petrol station in Oxpens Road said it would close on Monday, August 17.

The closure of pumps follows news that the BP garage in Botley will shut as part of plans for phase two of a redevelopment of Seacourt Retail Park.

With no new petrol stations yet planned for West Oxford, the nearest place for drivers west of the city to fill up will be Sainsbury’s at Heyford Hill.

A member of staff at the Oxpens petrol station said yesterday: “We have been told we will be closing on August 17. It’s a shame – I think the petrol station has been here for about 40 years.”

Esso Petroleum spokeswoman Sophie Foale said six people work at the petrol station, adding: “We value the site staff and will be seeking to minimise the number of redundancies at the site through redeployment to other Esso branded sites.”

In April it emerged that an agreement has been reached between Oxford City Council and a Government-backed developer for the Oxpens scheme, featuring 400 homes, 10,400sq m of office space and a 155-bedroom hotel and leisure facilities. City council leader Bob Price said the council owned the petrol station site.

He added: “The petrol station is part of the Oxpens development site and preliminary work could start in 2017.

“The petrol station’s tanks needed to be renewed and I understand it’s an expensive operation, running to six figures. Given that the lifespan of the petrol station is now quite limited they did not feel it was worth making the investment.

“We had no desire for them to go at this time – it is regrettable because drivers will have to go further to fill up.”

Mr Price said drivers in Oxford could use Cherwell filling station in Cherwell Drive, Marston, or the BP service station in Oxford Road, Cowley.

Ali Jan, a spokesman for A1 Taxis based in Park End Street, said: “The Esso petrol station is very handy.

“The more petrol stations there are in the city centre the better.”

The announcement in April about the Oxpens site followed negotiations between the council and London Continental Railways, owned by the Department for Transport. The two are the biggest landowners on the site, next to Oxford ice rink, and a deal has now been reached between the council and developer Exemplar.

The redevelopment is part of a wider vision for the west of the city centre that includes the expansion of Oxford rail station, the transformation of Frideswide Square and the redevelopment of the Westgate shopping centre.