ITS VICTORIAN terraced streets were immortalised in 1987 when Inspector Morse took to our screens for the first time.

Now, 23 years on, a bid to preserve Jericho’s ‘special heritage’ is moving from fiction to reality.

Next month consultation will begin on making the suburb a conservation area, giving it increased protection from development.

In January, Oxford City Council agreed to support and fund residents’ calls for the special designation.

Jenny Mann, secretary of Jericho Community Association, said it should be treasured alongside Oxford’s colleges as a vital part of the city’s heritage.

She said: “It does have its own atmosphere and its own charm, which is the little Victorian terraced houses built for the printworkers.

“You don’t want something awful built in the middle messing up the whole thing.

“I actually think the Victorian working class history of Oxford is something to be proud of. We are renowned for celebrating the golden stone colleges but there is a wonderful 19th century heritage we should treasure.”

As part of the designation process, a detailed study of what makes the area special must be carried out and a draft council report will go to public consultation next month. A final report will follow next year.

Council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “We want residents’ views on what they consider special about Jericho.

“This can include a favourite building or view and anything that shapes its character.”

The area grew up around the Oxford Canal and the Jericho Iron and Brass Foundry.

Housing development was later centred on the Oxford University Press building built in 1832.

Its terraced streets featured in the very first TV Inspector Morse, The Dead of Jericho, screened on January 6 1987.

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.

Inspector Morse and Lewis star, Kevin Whately, and His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman backed the campaign against it.

The Jericho Living Heritage Trust is now preparing a bid to buy the site for the community.

Oxford has 16 conservation areas, defined by government as “areas of special architectural or historical interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance”.

The areas include the historic centre, Osney, Littlemore and Marston.

The status affects plans such as extensions, roof dormers, demolition and satellite dishes.