PLANS to build flats have been thrown out amid fears they would exacerbate parking problems.

Councillors rejected the scheme in New Marston, Oxford, because of concerns about overdevelopment, amenity space and access.

Under the plans for William Street, potential occupiers would have been banned from having residents’ parking permits.

Residents warned there was nothing stopping newcomers from parking in the street at evenings and weekends, when permits do not apply.

While councillors expressed sympathy, they said this could not be given as a reason for refusal as it had allowed similar plans.

Permission was sought for a two-storey building, to fill a gap between numbers 56 and 52, comprising a two-bedroom flat and a one-bedroom flat. A workshop and office to the back of the site would also be converted into a flat.

It is in an Oxfordshire County Council controlled parking zone, which restricts daytime parking to permit holders only between 9am and 5pm.

A council planning official’s report said this “would act as a strong deterrent in discouraging people without permit eligibility from owning a car”.

It said of car owners: “It would be highly inconvenient to have to move your car when you were on annual leave/sick leave, and find somewhere else to park it.”

It cited excellent public transport links and cycle routes and recommended the plan be approved.

But resident John Small told councillors: “One or more will continue to have a car. They may have jobs that take them out of Oxford in the working week.

“They will be able to park in William Street in the evening and weekends.”

Of 63 cars counted at 8pm on Monday, 18 did not have permits, he said.

Seven objections were received, with concerns raised about overdevelopment and parking, including from Oxford Civic Society.

The county’s highways department did not object.

Members of Oxford City Council’s east area planning committee threw out the plan.

Fred Wondre, 67, who lives next to the site, said: “If you come here late you can’t really park. Being car-free is fine as an argument in theory, but it will be totally impractical.”

Committee member Mary Clarkson said it was the “most densely populated street in New Marston” and insisted parking problems made it “unworkable”.

She said: “Despite the closeness to the city centre, good bus and cycle routes, and the existence of a controlled parking zone (CPZ) in the past five or six years, it hasn’t deterred other people from owning cars.”

Martin Ashcroft, development control team leader, said it would be “very difficult” to defend a developer’s appeal if the plan was rejected over parking concerns.

He told members the council had given permission for “other sites where there is congestion, where CPZs only exist in the day time”.

Instead, the committee rejected the plan on grounds of overdevelopment, lack of amenity space and concerns a proposed walkway would be too confined.

There are 23 residents’ CPZs in the city.