Cheap car parking for shoppers at an Oxford college looks set to be banned by Oxford City Council.

Since 2012, the City of Oxford College has been renting out about 91 spaces at its college off Oxpens Road at weekends and during college holidays.

For £6 you can park all day on site - a much cheaper deal than the city council's Oxpens car park opposite where up to three hours' parking costs £6.10. It costs £4.80 to park for two hours at the Westgate Centre.

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The college website says: "You can park your car at city of Oxford College and enjoy a short two-minute stroll into the heart of Oxford.

"Our Oxpens Road campus is open to the public for parking on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays during term-time. It is also open Monday-Friday during half-term and holidays.

"Discover the affordable all-day alternative to hourly-rate car parks and limited-stay parking at the weekend in Oxford.

Oxford Mail: City of Oxford College"You can park for as long or as short a time as you like on Saturday or Sunday, it’s just £6 per visit per day. Payment is card only, and you pay when you enter."

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Now the college, run by Activate Learning, has been told it can no longer hire out spaces.

The college has been refused a Certificate of Lawful Use and is expected to have to stop renting out the spaces unless it appeals against the decision.

City council spokesman Tony Ecclestone said: "In this case, the college sought a certificate for the use of the car park by paying members of the public on the basis that they had been doing so for a period of 10 years; the 10-year period being the period where such a use would be immune from planning enforcement action.

"The council has refused the application because in fact there is a condition attached to a planning permission granted in March 2020 which precludes the use of the car park other than by staff and students of the college.

"The implementation of that planning permission by the college meant that regardless of how long the car park had been used the requirements of the condition would have to be met. This condition makes the operation of the car park for members of the public unlawful and so no certificate could be issued."

Oxford Mail: The city council's Oxpens car parkDiscussions about parking conditions have arisen as the college is planning to improve buildings on its site.

A spokesman for the college said: "Activate Learning can confirm that it has had its certificate of lawfulness to run the car park out of our City of Oxford College refused by Oxford City Council.

“We are currently exploring our options to determine our next steps."

Anna Railton, cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, said the decision was consistent with the council's policies.

She added: "People living in Abingdon Road in my ward are frustrated by buses being held up by cars queuing for the Westgate and this college car park - I know they will welcome this decision.

"It's in line with our vision of how people should get around the city - by using public transport.

"The college car park has been under-cutting the city council, under-cutting everybody."

Oxford Mail: City of Oxford CollegeBut Graham Jones, of traders' group ROX (Backing Oxford Business), said the decision was the latest 'heavy-handed' anti-car measure in the city.

He added: "Parking charges are horrific in Oxford - both on-street and in the council car parks.

"More and more, instead of visiting Oxford people will go instead to the market towns where there is some free parking."

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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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