A rallying call has gone out in a bid to save an Oxford canalside site from the latest threat from developers.

Last summer the Castle Mill boatyard site, in Jericho, was the scene of dramatic evictions as boaters protested against the closure of the yard.

But now the land has been sold to a developer by British Waterways and residents are concerned that blocks of flats proposed by the firm will overshadow St Barnabas Church.

Previous plans by Bellway Homes to buy the site did not go ahead after the firm lost a planning appeal.

But now Spring Residential has bought the site and applied to the city council for permission to build 54 one and two-bedroom flats and a public piazza on the narrow strip of land next to St Barnabas church.

It also plans to build a new bridge over the Oxford canal for pedestrians and cyclists.

Jenny Mann, secretary of Jericho Community Association, said most residents were opposed to the plans.

A public meeting is being held tomorrow night at 7.30pm in St Barnabas Church.

Ms Mann said: "The three- and four-storey blocks will crowd in on both sides of the church, which is a listed building, and obliterate most views of it from the towpath, except from directly opposite.

"This is currently a towpath walk of great character and historic interest and, of course, the canalside is the setting for Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy."

Artist Valerie Petts, a Jericho resident, is preparing an artist's impression of what the new flats will look like next to existing homes.

Ms Mann added: "Spring Residential has set aside a strip of land for a new community centre, which is what the residents want, but there is no provision for a boatyard.

"The very heart and character of Jericho will be destroyed if these fortress-like blocks are allowed to loom over the traditional two-storey houses."

Spring Residential's plans will be on display in the church before the meeting from 7pm.

No-one from Spring was available for comment.