DEVELOPERS behind plans to build hundreds of new homes in Blackbird Leys have defended proposals to build on a playing field.

Oxford City Council and Catalyst Housing said the green space, on the edge of Spindleberry Nature Park, has been earmarked for housing since 2013.

The former landfill site, between Knights Road and the Kassam Stadium, is seen as the most suitable place to build at least 250 new homes.

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As plans take shape, the latest ideas for the scheme were unveiled at a meeting last week and will be shown again at the Leys Festival on Sunday.

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One Knights Road resident said he feared the houses were effectively being built 'in his back garden' and he worried how the disruption may impact the large numbers of elderly and disabled people who live on Spindleberry Close.

He said the field is frequently used for sports and activities, especially dog walking, and the new homes would take away valuable green space from the estate.

Mohammed Haque, head of delivery for Catalyst, stressed they are still 'in listening mode' and no final designs have been decided.

Various consultation events have been held since the start of the year with people invited to give their views and shape plans for the Knights Road site and the redesign of the 'district centre', by the top shops.

He said: "It's clear there are lots of challenges for both sites which is why we are taking the time to do this now.

"I think we've had a really strong feeling from the community that there is a lot of support for regeneration and redevelopment.

"People want to see change in the district centre and how that space works - this has been promised for a long time.

"They also see the need for more affordable housing.

"But it's a very tight space and there is not a lot of spare land to play with."

Following the latest rounds of consultation, a masterplan for the scheme is likely to be unveiled in September and applications for planning permission will follow in 2020.

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In the district centre, the latest ideas for the area include the creation of a pedestrianised public square with some roads potentially being closed off to make the area less car-orientated.

Residents have said they want to see more social spaces including a cafe or restaurant and a newly built community centre.

John Dillon, the chair of the parish council, welcomed the number of opportunities people have had to input their ideas and called on people to get involved.

He said: "I think it is brilliant. Of course there are problems and we have to look at those closely. At the moment it is still very early but I've been extremely pleased to see all these events and there's been a real effort to get people's opinions.

"I think the most important thing for us is to make sure that the homes built are affordable for people who live on the estate and they mean that people can continue living here."

The city council’s policy is for 40 per cent of any housing development to be for social rent.