A boat club feels like it has been made to "look like villains" by the city council amid controversial plans to return a car park to public use.

A planning application was submitted by Oxford City Council in March with the aim of transforming the Meadow Lane car park in Cowley.

The car park is used by the Falcon Lane Boat Club where members are worried about losing the spaces.

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Nick Barnett, president of the boat club, said: "The council is making us look like the villains.

"The club has become more popular but now they're saying they want to make the car park pay and display and open to everyone."

A poster distributed to the public says: "During lockdown, the council took a bizarre decision to give one boating club exclusive access to our public car park.

"Residents told the council how unpopular this decision was with locals and got the council to realise their mistake.

Oxford Mail: The new boat club house.The new boat club house. (Image: Contribution.)

"The council has now applied for planning permission to make Meadow Lane car park a public car park once again.

"However, non-resident boat club members have flooded the planning portal with objections."

The boat club says it got planning permission three years ago to build a new boathouse but one of the conditions with the city council was that 35 car spaces must be available for club use.

Mr Barnett said the council had "caved into pressure" and a conversion to public use would mean the planning condition would likely not be met.

Hundreds of comments are listed on the Oxford City Council planning portal with differing opinions on the matter.

Meadow Lane resident Arthur Williams said: "There is no public parking on meadow lane anymore and I don't agree Falcon should have sole use of the car park. It is wrong to give a private club sole access of a public car park."

But Parker Street resident Trevor Dawn said: "The Falcon car park is vital for the successful ongoing operation of a vibrant community club serving a diverse membership."

Oxford Mail: Boat club members.Boat club members. (Image: Contribution.)

An Oxford City Council spokesman said: "Falcon Rowing Club submitted a planning application in 2019.

"Although the car park was not within their lease, they included the land in the planning application.

"A condition was placed on the planning consent that it must be locked when not in use by Falcon to prevent commuter use.

"It became apparent that there are a number of groups who have historically used the parking area and granting a lease would prevent this.

"All of the groups can demonstrate strong community links and the council doesn't want car parking arrangements to be a barrier to this.

"We have instead applied to vary the planning condition and return it to the original use of public car parking, with a tariff and the ability to enforce, to reduce it being used by commuters."