Oxford City Council leaders are expected to delay plans to designate Jericho as a conservation area because it cannot foot the £40,000 bill to make the change.

Earlier this year, residents called for councillors to give the area special status to protect it from ‘insensitive’ developments.

At a meeting next week, members of the council’s executive board will consider a recommendation to back the creation of a Jericho conservation area — but only in principle.

A draft version of the report stops short of recommending the investment necessary to give the area conservation status, and instead has proposed a Heritage Strategy should be drawn up for the whole city.

The report to councillors says: “To prepare an assessment of Jericho, consult with the local community and consider Jericho for designation as a conservation area would require in the region of £30,000 to £40,000. There is currently no budget for this.”

But Susanna Pressel, Jericho and Osney councillor, said the budget for creating the conservation area had been overestimated.

She said: “There are lots of other conservation areas in the city and I think Jericho needs to become one as soon as possible to protect it.

“I will be telling the executive board that we can give it conservation area status much more cheaply. Jericho is changing all the time and some of the changes are not desirable. It’s a beautiful part of the city and it needs protecting.”

The call for conservation area status came after developers Spring Residential failed to get planning permission to build 54 flats on the former Castle Mill boatyard site.

Adrian Arbib, who led the campaign last year to prevent the development, said: “It’s disappointing to hear what the report recommends.

“Making Jericho a conservation area would provide robust planning guidance, which would help to prevent four-storey developments being built in the area.

“Central government wants to push ahead with development and the building of new homes and views conservation areas as a form of nimbyism but that is not the case – it is simply communities trying to hang on to what they have got.

“Jericho is one of the few places left which reflects Oxford’s working class heritage and it should be protected.

“Quite a few investment flats have been built alongside the canal in Jericho in the past few years and conservation area status might have prevented that.”

His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman, who used to live in North Oxford but now resides in Cumnor, and Inspector Morse and spin-off series Lewis star, Kevin Whately, backed the campaign to prevent the Spring Residential flats from being built, and the Jericho Living Heritage Trust is now preparing a bid to buy the site for the community.

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 foundry site.

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 only three remain.