Award-winning novelist Philip Pullman has warned that encroaching development is threatening Oxford's unique character.

Mr Pullman, who lives in Cumnor and is the author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, spoke out while lending his support to campaigners who are concerned by plans to redevelop the Castle Mill Boatyard site in Jericho.

He said: "The boatyard is going to vanish and it is not just the boatyard itself, it is the importance of the life of the canal that I am concerned with as well as the beautiful view that we have of the church and the trees that will grow.

"Unfortunately I do think it is symptomatic of how Oxford as a whole is changing.

"People like myself who have been here for 40 years will remember St Ebbe's as it used to be. It is now the concrete wasteland of the Westgate Centre.

"The Covered Market is changing, and Cornmarket is now a street like any other High Street in the country, so it is all the more important we protect little spots like this."

He added: "People need to protest and make their views heard as soon as possible. Oxford is unique and different to any other city in the world.

"The way the developers want to work is to make it like every other place in the world because it is cheaper and easier and quicker to build that way. But it is wrong for the face of Oxford, and it is wrong for the character of human beings.

"It must be resisted - and we will resist."

Mr Pullman renamed Esther Pozzani's canal boat Lyra's Defiance on Saturday, to mark the campaign.

Spring Residential has submitted plans for blocks of flats on the former boatyard site which do not include provision for a boatyard.

Filming of The Butterfly Tattoo, based on Mr Pullman's novel of the same name, finished yesterday.