AFTER four years of consultation, it has been decided that a Grade II-listed church will finally be demolished.

Yesterday, Oxford City Council voted to knock down and rebuild the Church of the Holy Family, on Cuddesdon Way in Blackbird Leys.

The church, built-in 1965, was listed as a Grade-II building due to its unusual heart-shaped plan and rare hyperbolic paraboloid roof - however, this roof had been leaking extensively and was set to cost over £1.5 million to repair.

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Reverend Heather Carter, who has been campaigning for its demolition, said she was 'delighted' that the council had approved the plans for the church's regeneration.

The council also voted on plans to replace the demolished church with a new church, a community centre, and 21 homes and flats.

The new plans will also fit in with the council's multi-million regeneration plan for Blackbird Leys.

Reverend Carter added: "We are delighted that Oxford City Council has approved plans to see the regeneration of our church and the community facilities that the church needs to support the local Blackbird Leys community, together with a new vicarage and local housing.

"This will allow the church and those who support the local community from its facilities to continue their work in Blackbird Leys."

The Reverend added that a derelict church would increase anti-social behaviour in the area.

The demolition and rebuilding of the church, and new homes, is set to take place within the next two years.

In a consultation about the proposed plans, over 970 locals responded, with 98 per cent standing in support.

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Historic England, which listed the building as a grade II church on behalf of the Twentieth Century Society, also withdrew its objections to its demolition earlier this year.

The majority of city councillors voted yesterday to demolish the church, other than Christine Simm, who represents the Cowley Ward.

Ms Simm said prior to the vote, that it would be 'an act of vandalism to knock [the church]' down.

Councillor Mary Clarkson, who represents Marston, said: "It is not an easy one, but it is important to have a church which effectively serves the community and flexibility is key for all modern churches."

Some Blackbird Leys residents, speaking before the decision was made, said they hoped the church would not be destroyed.

Geraldine Alder said: "I am gutted - there is a big part of me in that church.

"I got married there in 1982 and my mum was laid to rest in there in 1983."

Another resident, Elaine Malcher, said she 'loved the church' and reminisced about singing in its choir.

She added: "I really hope they save it."

Other residents, however, were prepared to embrace the new church.

Lee Jackson said: "The community needs their church back.

"Speaking for many residents who have wanted their loved one's funeral there."

The Reverend added that she hopes 'the church will again become the community's heart-beat in this hugely deprived area'.