A POTENTIAL £9.75m revamp that would have changed the face of one of Oxford’s busiest streets has been shelved.

The city council said its plan to knock down 1-5 George Street and rebuild it with a plush new unit was now unaffordable.

It said it will now ‘go back to the drawing board’ to see what it can do in the future.

The council first unveiled its swish plans for George Street in late 2017 – but papers for a meeting next week say the plan is ‘under review’.

READ MORE: Finer details delay work on George Street rebuild project

It said the ASK Italian restaurant will be offered a longer lease to stay in 5 George Street.

Other tenants had all moved out by mid-2018. They included a dentist, a chiropodist and a luggage shop, Solutions.

The building sits on the other side of George Street from the New Theatre and Debenhams and is directly opposite the department store and pizzeria Franco Manca.

An Oxford City Council spokesman said: “As we progressed through the viability and planning process, it became clear there were significant archaeological and heritage issues that made a larger scheme unaffordable.

“We have agreed a new lease with ASK that secures a significant income stream supporting council services.

"We will now go back to the drawing board to examine options for the remainder of the building."

He added: “In the interim, we are considering meanwhile uses that will support businesses and encourage the continued vitality of George Street.”

In April 2018, the council said it expected it would have asked itself for planning permission that forthcoming summer. By June of that year, it asked for residents’ views on designs.

But by December, it still had yet to apply for the planning permission. It said it wanted to ensure the project would fit in with the rest of George Street.

The authority said it had hoped it would have brought in as much as £630,000 every year with increased rents.

Back in 2017, the council said it would spend £9.75m on knocking 1-5 George Street down and building a better unit. At the time, it said that would result in the new building being worth about £11.5m.

The council had said its plans would have increased floor space in the new building by 155 per cent – from 8,812 sq ft to 22,500 sq ft.

READ AGAIN: £10m new build project on George Street planned by council

New restaurant spaces would have been nearly double the size of what is currently there, from 3,590 sq ft to 6,000 sq ft.

The George Street project will be discussed by the authority's finance panel next Monday at Oxford Town Hall.

It will look at other ways the council has worked with business over recent years and months.

Other data available shows it has failed to meet its target to increase businesses in Oxford and to boost employment floor space.

It had sought to increase the number of businesses running here by 200 – but reached just 40. It also had sought to increase employment floor space by 15,000 square metres last year – but achieved 12,747.