CONTROVERSIAL plans to house criminals and suspects in an Oxford neighbourhood have been axed.

Stonham Services, the firm behind the proposed bail hostel at 30 Headley Way, Headington, has confirmed it had dropped the plans to rent the property.

The semi-detached house has now been returned to the landlord after her contract with Stonham was torn up.

Criminals jailed for burglary, theft and violent attacks – as well as those awaiting trial – could have been housed in the residential area as soon as next month.

Residents who campaigned against the plan said they were delighted.

More than 30 people protested outside the house last month and a Facebook group and petition were launched.

It would have been part of the Government’s Bail Accommodation and Support Service (Bass), which houses people in single-sex homes while on bail or Home Detention Curfew licence when they leave prison.

The Ministry of Justice has said Oxford needs another hostel but lst night it was unclear if it or Stonham would look at another location.

Neighbour Dr Humma Shahid, who works as a consultant at the Oxford Eye Hospital at the John Radcliffe Hospital, said she was delighted the Headley Way plan had been scrapped.

She said: “I live next door to the property with my young family so I was very worried.

“It was obvious that Headley Way was entirely the wrong place for a hostel like this and we are glad those behind it have seen sense.”

Bev O’Farrell, 39, from Derwent Avenue, added: “I know these places have to go somewhere but putting it in the middle of a residential area seemed like madness.”

Headington county councillor Mohammed Altaf-Khan said: “This area is full of families and would have been totally unsuitable.

Earlier this month, the Oxford Mail revealed there are already two Bass hostels in Oxford and it wanted a third.

Because the hostels are described as private accommodation, Government officials have refused to say where they are.

In 2009, Headington was highlighted as a suitable place for a bail hostel in a leaked Government memo. No person convicted of any crime which falls under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 Schedule Three – including rape, sexual assault and incest – can stay at the hostels, or those under 18 or deemed a risk to the public.

Stonham spokesman Rachel Dunachie said: “We’ve written to the council to confirm our service will not be provided at this address.

“Our services offer private accommodation to people who have not been convicted of an offence and who the courts have decided should be released on bail rather than be needlessly and unjustly held in prison.

“Our properties are also sometimes available to prisoners at the end of their sentence who are being released initially on electronic tag.

“We aim to house people near to their place of work so they don’t lose their job and are also close to families where appropriate.”