THE derelict Temple Cowley Pools look set to be bulldozed after councillors backed plans to redevelop the site.

A scheme approved tonight would see 48 homes built where the former leisure centre sits in Temple Road, Oxford, in a blow to hopes it might still be reopened.

It was backed by Oxford City Council’s east area planning committee, despite a long-running campaign to save the site by a community group.

Save Temple Cowley Pools claimed more than 200 people had signed a petition against the pools revamp.

But in a report to the committee, planning officer Andrew Murdoch said: “The development would make an efficient use of an allocated site to provide much-needed affordable and market housing.”

The plans put forward by Catalyst Housing would see half of the homes rented as affordable accommodation, he added.

But speaking at the meeting on Wednesday, campaigner Judith Harley argued it would mean the loss of vital leisure facilities. The council says a new leisure centre in Blackbird Leys is close enough for people in Temple Cowley.

But Ms Harley told councillors: “Residents in Temple Cowley need more publicly accessible leisure facilities, not less.”

However Roger Smith, of Savills, which represented Catalyst Housing, said: “Clearly this is a very controversial application, but we have gone to great lengths to get it right.

“There is a need for more housing and this delivers it.”

But councillor Dick Woolf said: “Temple Cowley Pools was a lot more than a swimming pool and I don’t think we can approve this if it is purely residential.

“We are also going on leisure assessments done in 2009.”

He proposed refusing the application, but was defeated 5-1.