OXFORD City Council will be urged to put its hand in its pocket and buy the boarded-up Jericho boatyard site in a bid to bring it back to life.

The Castle Mill boatyard, which has stood disused since May 2006, is currently in the hands of Pricewaterhouse-Coopers after the parent company of Spring Residential, Castlemore Securities, went into administration.

The site has stood derelict since a proposal for 54 flats was rejected by a planning inspector in October 2008.

The council will be asked to stump up whatever it takes to secure the site’s long-term future, but leader Bob Price has already said it does not have the resources to make a bid.

Green councillor Matt Morton will table a motion urging the authority to borrow enough money to buy the site from administrators.

He said: “The city council should be doing it, because no-one else is able to respond to the needs of the boating and Jericho communities, who have a shared need to see the site brought back into use.

“The idea is that it won’t cost the taxpayer anything.

“We borrow the money and the interest to service the loan is paid for by the letting of the site back to the community.

“Many of the boaters on the canal are living in sub-standard conditions, because they don’t have access to a serviceable boatyard. Many have survived the winter, but we can’t go on like this forever.”

The Jericho Boatyard, which is a 160-year-old wharf on the Oxford Canal, was popularised after author Philip Pullman set parts of his best-selling Northern Lights and Lyra’s Oxford books there.

Mr Price said: “We’re keen to see a plan for the site, which is consistent with the character of Jericho, but we don’t have the resources to enter the market to purchase the site from the administrators.

“The other issue is even if we did have the money, you would have to have a plan as to what to do with the site, in order to recoup a large part of the money.”

Mr Morton said estimates put the value of the boatyard at somewhere between £1m and £4m.

Meanwhile, the charitable Jericho Living Heritage Trust continues to raise money in the hope of purchasing the site.

Campaigner Adrian Arbib said: “Any move to get it back into use is a good thing, because there’s a desperate need for affordable housing and a serviceable boatyard in Jericho.

“What we don’t want to see is a gated community of unaffordable, luxury housing.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Stephen Brown said: “It would be fantastic if a charitable or voluntary organisation could purchase the land for use by the canalside community, but with all the other pressures that exist on the capital budget, I can understand why it doesn’t seem to be a priority.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers refused to comment.

The council meeting is at 5pm on Monday in the Town Hall.