Residents in Jericho are stepping up their campaign to raise millions of pounds to buy a former boatyard site.

In October, a planning inspector ruled Spring Residential's plan for 54 flats at the former Castle Mill boatyard site should not go ahead.

The company has not yet submitted fresh plans to the city council, and last night said it would be prepared to sell the site for the right price.

Shortly after the planning inspector’s decision, residents who campaigned against the development announced they would try to buy the site.

Last week about 100 supporters met to discuss the best way forward for a buy-out.

At the meeting, supporters were asked to write down their top three requirements for Jericho canalside, so their ideas could be included in any forthcoming community plans.

The former boatyard site is thought to have been sold to Spring Residential for £4m by British Waterways.

Campaigner Adrian Arbib said residents hoped the developer would sell the site for half that amount in the current economic climate.

He added: “The best way forward appears to be a community-led bid with a boatyard, workshops and affordable housing. We need to raise millions of pounds and come up with a plan which could be a template for regenerating dying canal frontages.

“Spring have not put forward new plans so far, so we are hopeful they will be receptive to a bid from the community.

“We have written letters to lots of high-profile people to ask for their support with the fundraising campaign.”

The campaign against the flats was supported by author Philip Pullman and Lewis actor Kevin Whately.

Inspector Morse author Colin Dexter is now backing the buy-out plan led by Jericho Living Heritage Trust.

He said: “Jericho is one of the only remaining places in the centre of Oxford where people can linger and enjoy the canalside.”

Sir Christopher Ball, founder-patron of the trust, added: “Everyone who contributes to buying the site will be part of an extraordinary story and have a real stake in the future, a future that will delight generations to come.”

The trust’s chairman, Peter Strong, added: “Many people think Jericho is a conservation area, but that is not the case.

“The planning inspector’s decision confirms the need for a fresh look at this situation.”

The inspector's decision followed an inquiry in August attended by hundreds of campaigners.

It was the second time developers had failed in their attempts to develop the site — three years ago, a Bellway Homes scheme was rejected at an inquiry.

The Jericho Living Heritage Trust was formed as a charity in May to protect and promote the “living heritage of Jericho”.

Rebekah Paczek, a spokesman for Spring Residential, said: “Spring are not actively marketing the site, but would be prepared to sell the site if an acceptable offer were to be made.

“However, what has been proved by the two previous appeals is the site is regarded as suitable for residential development of the type proposed by Spring in the previous application.

“This would therefore be reflected in the value of the land.

“On the assumption the site is not sold, it is Spring's intention to bring forward another application for the site in due course and in consideration of the current market.”