AN OXFORD college’s bid to move a bookmaker into an empty shop has been fiercely opposed by some of its own students.

Jesus College, Oxford wants permission to move Ladbrokes into St Michael’s Mansions in Ship Street for five years. The betting shop is currently in Northgate House, in Cornmarket Street, but the college wants to start extensive redevelopment work on the building.

The proposal will go to Oxford City Council’s West End planning committee next Tuesday after five councillors said they wanted it discussed there. Normally, similar applications would be decided by planning officers.

One Jesus College student told the city council they thought it inappropriate to ‘plug in a conglomerate chain’.

They added: “Jesus College students receive a discount on meals at No. 1 Ship Street (restaurant). I can hardly imagine a ‘free bet’ scenario being received well.”

If the bookmaker can move into the former Russell and Bromley shop in Ship Street, it would be located opposite the Grade I listed Church of St Michael at the Northgate. That unit has been vacant since autumn 2017.

Another Jesus College student said a bookmaker would ‘harm the inclusive and international image of the city [because]...many people, cultures and religions’ find betting ‘morally questionable’.

Ladbrokes has nine shops in Oxford. There are three in the city centre – in Cornmarket Street, Gloucester Street and St Aldates. Others are in Banbury Road in Summertown; London Road, Headington; Cowley Road; Iffley Road, and in Barnes Road and Hollow Way, in Cowley.

Some students’ negative view of the application is shared by the Oxford Civic Society. Its president Sir Clive Booth said the Central Conservation Area ‘would be harmed’ if Ladbrokes is allowed to move.

He added the current Ladbrokes in Market Street is ‘not obvious’ to people walking by – but that moving it into Ship Street would be ‘very different’ and its front would be ‘garish’.

Councillors Mary Clarkson, Chewe Munkonge, John Tanner, Susanna Pressel and Christine Simm said they wanted the application called into the committee. They argue the college has not proved it has looked at whether alternative shops could use the empty unit.

Jesus College got planning permission to redevelop Northgate House in August, despite some worries the new development’s tower would be too tall for the city centre.

Planning consultants JPPC said they hope the application gets the go-ahead because it would bring more people to Ship Street.