DEMOLITION work has started at a former factory that helped build parts for Spitfires during the Second World War.

Redundant rolling mills and other buildings at the 53-acre Southam Road works, former home of Alcan, in Banbury have been torn down to clear the site ready for sale.

Its owner, Sapa, has told Cherwell District Council that all the buildings — except three listed by English Heritage — will be demolished.

The art deco office building, gate posts and memorial garden at the site have been given grade II listed status and to remain where they are.

Demolition on the rest of the site, which closed in 2007, is expected to be completed by September.

Banbury Civic Society and the council teamed up to press English Heritage to list as much of the former Alcan site as possible, but many of the buildings were not deemed of adequate interest.

This week, in a bid to save more of the buildings, the civic society lobbied the council to use a planning technicality to halt demolition, claiming that buildings within the curtilage of a listed property were also protected.

But a barrister advised Cherwell that the firm was acting within the law.

Rob Kinchin-Smith, chairman of Banbury Civic Society, is concerned the listed buildings will be left standing alone without the other buildings to put the site in context.

He said: “I can’t see what public interest is going to be served by leaving the listed section in demolition wasteland with no prospect of redevelopment or regeneration.

“The role of the planning system is to protect the siting of listed buildings.

“Once the buildings have gone the setting has changed and not for the better.

“What’s still standing is left to provide a suitable backdrop to the listed buildings.

“For the sake of that approach into Banbury we are better off seeing the listed buildings with the gates than a big clear brown field site.

“It doesn’t present the best approach for the town. It makes it look as if it is on its knees.”

Cherwell councillor Kieron Mallon, who led the fight to get the buildings listed, said: “We have taken advice from a QC and they said what’s being done is within planning laws.”

No-one from Sapa was available to comment. l Did you work at the factory? If so, call reporter Sam Macgregor on 01869 241436