Oxford Botanic Garden has applied for planning permission to demolish and rebuild a 30-metre stretch of 400-year-old riverbank.

Garden managers have said the 17th century structure has been battered and worn away by repeated flooding of the River Cherwell to such an extent that it was warping the pathway above.

In an application to Oxford City Council, garden managers said: "University estates were called to the botanic gardens on June 7, 2017, following reports that the path ‘appeared to have moved’ suggesting some form of structural defect.

"Further investigations showed that, although no catastrophic movement had taken place, the riverbank retaining wall was leaning considerably along its top portion, causing a severe camber on the path alongside towards the river. The path was subsequently closed for safety."

Subsequent investigations revealed that the retaining wall was only 30cm thick and as such 'cannot resist the lateral loads imposed upon it'.

It also appeared that the wall was suffering from settlement or subsidence through erosion during floods.

The garden said: "These defects cannot be repaired in situ and therefore removal of the wall will be required, continuing previous phases of repair to the riverbank both up and downstream of the affected section."

After deconstructing the wall and 'salvaging as much historic material as possible', the team plan to install sheet piles, pour in concrete, then replace the historic stonework in the river.