UP to 700 homes have been proposed by developers on Green Belt land next to Old Marston.

Landowners Martin Cavalier and Mazhar Dogar want the site to be included in a list of possibilities being drawn up for Oxford's new Local Plan.

They claim the scheme would provide "much-needed new and affordable homes", but council bosses and conservationists say the area is "highly sensitive".

As well as being within protected Green Belt land, the site lies next to the Marston Conservation Area – where special planning restrictions apply – and the New Marston Meadows, a site of special scientific interest.

But in a statement criticising the council, Mr Cavalier said it had "dismissed this viable opportunity out of hand".

He added: "Oxford is now the most expensive place in the UK to live.

"Our site is just one of many that could release some of this pressure and provide much-needed new and affordable homes and infrastructure.

"When eminently suitable sites within Oxford are falling at the first hurdle it begs the question as to where the city’s [planning] officers expect this desperately needed new housing for the city to be built."

Mr Cavalier and Mr Dogar are understood to have proposed 400 homes on land they own and are calling for the council to consider another 300 on neighbouring land it owns.

They made the request after the local authority issued a 'call for sites', part of the early stages as it looks to create a new Local Plan.

According to an assessment of land across Oxford for housing published in 2014, the city council ruled out the land near Old Marston because it "would result in an unacceptable closing of the gap between Summertown and Old Marston and development could not occur in this segment without significant reduction of this function of the Green Belt in this area".

The scheme was also likely to "cause unacceptable harm" to the Marston Conservation Area, it added.

Alex Hollingsworth, the council's executive board member for planning, said: "This is a highly sensitive Green Belt site that also has several other important purposes, including the conservation area.

"Things have not changed since we last assessed it."

There were also warnings from the Oxford Preservation Trust, which owns land south of the site and the Victoria Arms pub.

The meadows there were among some of its earlier acquisitions, bought in 1927.

Trust director Debbie Dance said: "This is an important green space for the city between Summertown and Marston that has been made even more important due to the nearby Barton Park development.

"The preservation trust has helped protect Old Marston and land around it for nearly 100 years and it goes to the heart of what we do.

"These proposals would harm both the Green Belt and the conservation area."