OXFORD could get a major new office and restaurant complex in the heart of the city after planning bosses had second thoughts over a multi-million pound project.

Oxford City Council is looking to spend £9.75m on knocking down and rebuilding 1-5 George Street with the intention of securing much higher rents from tenants in the future.

Architects have already been tasked with drawing up plans for what might occupy the spot after it is demolished, but early plans for floor space suggest it could be two-and-a-half times its current size.

The council hopes it will be able to rake in up to £630,000 every year with increased rents the site, which currently houses restaurant ASK Italian, a chiropodist, a dentist and luggage shop Solutions.

Bobby Omari, who owns Solutions, said he was unaware of the plans until he was informed of them by the Oxford Mail and had hoped his business would be allowed to stay put at its current spot of 1-3 George Street.

He said: "I honestly don't know anything. I was hoping to renew my lease next year."

The city council had initially planned to ‘modestly refurbish’ the site, but senior councillors will be asked to sign off the first stages of a new plan to start again from scratch later this month.

Demolition and rebuilding would need to wait until all of the tenants leave the building in December.

The council has said all occupants, including ASK Italian, would be out of their units ahead of December 24.

Any new building would increase floor space in the buildings by 155 per cent – from a current 8,812 sq ft to 22,500 sq ft.

The council anticipates the re-built complex would then be worth about £11.5m.

The restaurant area for the project alone would be nearly double the size of what is available now. It could increase from a current 3,590 sq ft to 6,000 sq ft.

A member of staff at working at the George Street Dental Practice, which is based in offices at 3 George Street, said she was aware that the business was moving but had not been told the reasons why or when it will move to new premises.

As part of their initial plans, property bosses had wanted to spend £3.6m with the aim of bringing in £262,000 in rent from tenants.

They have also looked into building flats above the offices but said they were put off by the logistical difficulties with people living there.

The Grapes pub, which reopened on August 25 following a renovation, is located at 7 George Street, next door to the site.

Its general manager Mark Bruce said: “It’s the first I’ve heard of it. There’s obviously a lot of construction on George Street already. There’s building on Bella Italia and there’s a hotel that’s just been built.

“Hopefully it won’t affect us going forward. It’s good to get a good mix and hopefully whatever will go there will tie in with the street.”

Documents prepared by the council’s major projects and development manager Nick Twigg state: “Initially it was proposed to undertake a modest refurbishment for retail on part of the ground and basement floors, with residential above.

“Subsequent and more detailed viability suggested that better outcomes both from a design and financial perspective could be achieved by pursuing a much denser development of the site rather than refurbishment. In addition it was identified that the site lent itself more to office accommodation than residential. This has been confirmed by a property advisors.”

As part of another unrelated plan, the council wants to refurbish Standingford House and an annexe at a cost of £4.25m.

Formerly known as the Enterprise Centre, the multi-let office and workshop in Cave Street, off St Clements, was converted from a 1950s industrial site.

The council judges the building to be ‘poor’ and renovation is necessary following changes to energy legislation, which will change next year.

Ask restaurant was contacted to comment.

Oxford City Council's executive board will be asked to approve the initial plans at a meeting on September 19.