NEIGHBOURS are gearing themselves up for a “long fight” to save an Oxford pub after it was recommended for demolition.

Applicant Shoqat Saddique wants to build flats on the site after demolishing the former Jack Russell pub in Salford Road, Marston, which was sold by brewery Greene King in October.

But residents belonging to the Save the Jack Russell pub campaign claim the development would be “devastating” for the community.

City councillor Mick Haines, who leads the group, said: “I’m very disappointed in the decision because we had hoped for the opportunity to be able to pay to keep our pub, but it was never even an option.

“This decision is a blow to Marston because they could’ve put a community centre in its place or something that would’ve given Marston a bit of vibrancy. There’s nothing particularly fun or lively here.

“We’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep fighting.”

The proposed development would bring a three storey building containing 16 flats to the site, plus 19 parking spaces.

Marston resident Martin Smith, 52, said: “It’s all very well developing land to get more houses, I think it’s needed in Oxford, but to put it on that site just isn’t ideal.

“It’s one of the only places people can meet in Marston because there’s barely anything else here at all.”

The garage manager added he was disappointed the voices of campaigners had not been heard.

He said: “We’re all frustrated by the recommendation because we have fought so hard to have something worthwhile on the site.

“We had hoped for a community centre or something to at least be built alongside the housing that would be beneficial to the area.

“But it just seems to be the norm in Oxford that residents aren’t listened to.”

City council planning officer Robert Fowler said he believed the development would be an efficient use of the site.

He said: “It would provide much needed good quality affordable and market housing while at the same time establishing a balanced and mixed community.”

Mr Fowler added: “Appropriate evidence has been submitted to demonstrate that the existing public house on the site is not viable and another similar facility exists within a reasonable distance.”

Mr Saddique said in the application to the council that work on the site was expected to start in February.