The owner of a cafe in Oxford is hoping an agreement can be reached with his landlords so that his business can avoid eviction.

Will Pouget, who runs the Vaults & Garden cafe in Radcliffe Square, and cafe operators Fresh Connection, are facing a three-month eviction notice from the Parochial Church Council of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin.

They are contesting the notice issued in May and a county court hearing is due to take place tomorrow.

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A petition from supporters of the cafe has now attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

At lunchtime today, people were queuing up to get into the cafe which was packed with customers.

Oxford Mail: Diners at the Vaults & GardenMr Pouget would not comment in advance of the court hearing and would only say that he was hopeful an agreement could be reached with the PCC.

The PCC has said it wants to create a new social enterprise at the Old Congregation House, where the cafe is based, and complete repairs to stonework, replant the garden and work on a major redevelopment of the cafe facilities.

It has committed £750,000 to the building works.

It has released a new statement on its website today.

The statement said: "Regular visitors to the university church will be aware of our plans to redevelop the café and establish a social enterprise.

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"The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the Old Congregation House, its ancillary buildings and the churchyard and must ensure that necessary works take place so that this significant landmark building is in a fit state of repair with accessible and energy efficient facilities.

Oxford Mail: Queuing for a table"The PCC also hopes that development of the café as a social enterprise when it reopens will improve the quality of welcome to the university church and further its work as a charity.

"The plans, which have been in development for almost two years, led to appropriate notice being given to the current licensee, Mr Pouget of Fresh Connection Limited, to vacate the premises at the end of August this year so that the PCC redevelopment plans could be undertaken.

"Recent meetings with representatives of the PCC, messages posted to the current café website and comments given to the media by the business owners indicated that Mr Pouget and Fresh Connection wished to avoid legal action requiring possession of the premises to be given up, and to negotiate a settlement.

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"The PCC and Mr Pouget as well as Fresh Connection have tried to reach an agreed outcome in recent days, but have not been able to conclude terms.

Oxford Mail: Staff campaign to Save The Vaults"This means that we must now pursue the appropriate remedies and regain possession of our premises through the courts. The first hearing will take place on November 14. We look forward to providing a further update once the legal process has been completed."

It is understood that the cafe and Fresh Connection has the right of an appeal if the county court judge decides the eviction should go ahead.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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