A guerilla Internet campaign has been launched, aimed at closing the newly-opened Costa Coffee shop in Oxford's Cowley Road.

The site, on the website Facebook, was launched at the end of July, shortly after the coffee shop opened, but already has nearly 250 members - many of whom are calling for a boycott because they claim they are protecting the road's independent personality.

The group, called Get ******* Costa Coffee off the Cowley Road, was started by East Oxford resident Anthony Henry, who said: "I'm sick of the amount of corporate rubbish that is replacing the small, quirky shops once in abundance in Cowley Road.

"The face of Cowley is being changed and it will soon be just an extension of town."

The Cowley Road has a big following among the Facebook community. Supporters groups include I Heart Cowley Road,Centre for the Investigation of Wierdness on Cowley Road, and Common Ground, Common Sense: Save the Cowley Road Among those who have joined the campaign to oust Costa Coffee are brother and sister Jack and Katie Hearne. Mr Hearne, 18, of Iffley Road, said: "Cowley Road is all about the small local shops. It is a shame to see it becoming more like any high street anywhere. I think people will support the boycott."

And Miss Hearne, 26, of Southfield Road, added: "It seems to be happening all along Cowley Road, with global giants taking over from small businesses.

"Cowley Road needs to keep its identity, otherwise in a few years it will be unrecognisable."

Dozens of comments have been left on Facebook about Costa Coffee.

Paul Askew wrote: "I die a little inside every time I see it."

Leila Sattary added: "I thought Cowley Road was one of the only places with a bit of soul! Damn you Costa Coffee..!"

Costa Coffee franchise director Andy Marshall said: "Costa actually complements independent retailers while offering a wider range of choice and experience.

"The opening of a Costa Coffee shop often draws increased footfall to areas, re-energising and revitalizing them, therefore bringing substantial benefits to surrounding businesses."