PARENTS who say they feel ‘devastated’ and ‘let down’ by councillors’ refusal of the Swan School are fighting to save its future.

A group of prospective pupils’ parents have set up a petition for the new Oxford secondary school, demanding that the decision to deny planning permission is overturned next month.

It warns of a 'secondary school places crisis' if the school does not open as planned in September 2019, and has gained almost 700 signatures in one week.

Marston resident Naomi Winnifrith said: “Our local community of children and families have been terribly affected by the lack of sufficient secondary school places in our area for many years now.

“I am devastated that the future of the school is now uncertain."

She said her youngest son hopes to start the Swan School next year, and access good education within walking or cycling distance. She added: “Instead I am left with uncertainty and anxiety about where he is going to go to school and how on earth this crisis can be solved.”

The mother admitted the site – the Harlow Centre off Marston Ferry Road – was ‘not perfect’, but said this must be weighed against the need for children’s education.

Plans for the 1,260-pupil academy were refused by Oxford City Council’s planning committee earlier this month, against the advice of the council’s planning officers.

Their decision could be overturned by a planning review committee on October 15, after 12 councillors ‘called in’ the application.

Tessa Clayton hopes her nine-year-old daughter Sophia will be the first of her three children to attend the Swan School.

The auditor, who lives in Marston, said: “Many parents feel let down by councillors’ vote against the Swan plans. The decision was made with no plan B for where our children will go."

Oxfordshire County Council expects there to be a 19.4 per cent rise in secondary school pupils in the county by 2021, with a bulge in demand starting from next year.

Campaigners say Marston children are struggling to gain places at The Cherwell School and Cheney School, and are having to travel to schools across the city.

Councillors' key reasons for objecting were the loss of green belt land, and the potential danger of the access road cutting across one of the city's busiest cycle paths.

These were also among a long list of concerns raised by many Marston residents, and there were also objections from Cyclox and the county council's cycling champion Suzanne Bartington.

Sarah Eddie, another parent campaigner, said she understood the concerns but felt Swan School developers had mitigated the risk.

She added: "40 years ago there were probably similar concerns about the construction of Marston Ferry Road, but few of us would question its necessity.

“My daughter uses Marston Ferry cycle path every day, and I have no concerns about her safety."

To see the petition search for 'Oxford Swan School'.