People in one of Oxford’s most famous suburbs are calling on councillors to give it special status to protect it from insensitive development.

Jericho residents want the suburb to be designated a conservation area to preserve its canalside views and Victorian streets.

The idea got unanimous backing in a motion put to an Oxford City Council meeting, but a formal decision will be made by the executive board in the summer.

In recent years the area has attracted developers because of soaring land values.

In 2006 it became the home of Oxford’s first £1m apartment built as part of a development on the former Lucy’s foundary site.

The 266-home scheme was approved despite objections.

Last year, campaigners won a bitter three-year battle to prevent 54 flats being built on the Castle Mill boatyard, with Lewis star Kevin Whately and author Philip Pullman both speaking on their behalf at a planning inquiry.

Jenny Mann, secretary of the Jericho Community Association, said: “Jericho is in danger of having its heart ripped out. All the time it is hugely threatened by development because it is so close to the city centre and prices have become ridiculously expensive.”

The 55-year-old, of Victor Street, added: “There’s always a danger now that when a piece of land becomes available something like the Lucy’s development could be built which pays no attention to the style of the area.

“We don’t just want to become streets with rows of flats, estate agents and restaurants.”

In 2007 residents lost a campaign to save The Globe pub in Cranham Street from being turned into luxury housing despite a 1,000 name petition. In the 1950s, Jericho had 28 pubs but now has three.

Boatyard campaigner Adrian Arbib said: “This would protect Jericho from the worst intentions of developers.

“The reason Jericho has been raped and pillaged by losing things like the Lucy’s factory is because it hasn’t been protected.”

Paul Hornby, 57, of Walton Crescent, said: “We think it’s extraordinary that Jericho isn’t a conservation area already.

"We think we have lost one or two planning applications because that layer of protection isn't there. We could lose something really, really special here.”

Council leader Bob Price said: “Jericho is a very distinctive and interesting area and one that we think is worth trying to conserve and improve.

“Lots of houses have been converted and changed already though, so it may be felt by inspectors that making it a conservation area now is difficult to justify.”