Plans for 55 student rooms to the back of homes in West Oxford will be built, after a 74-flat scheme was rejected.

Oxford City Council backed a two-storey plan for 55 flats in Mill Street in February, but threw out the three-storey plan for 74 flats.

Developer WE Black Ltd appealed against the latter, but this has now been rejected by the Planning Inspectorate. Nik Lyzba, who represented the firm for planning consultants JPPC, said of the smaller plan: “It would certainly be the intention that they will proceed.”

Both developments were for land between the railway line and the street for language college students as young as 16.

Inspector Jane Miles said the three-storey plan would “cause significant harm to the character and appearance of the residential environment”.

Resident Mike Magee, 62, said: “I’m very pleased, three storeys was a storey too far. We are still not happy about the two-storey building, but it is a done deal.”

And Brendan Carter, 65, said: “I’d rather not have the two storeys at all, it is still too big, it is monolithic.”

Councillor Tony Brett, who led the appeal fight, said: “I am very pleased. We have to use the limited amount of land we have in Oxford – the two-storey scheme is less intrusive.”

But Miss Miles ordered the council to pay yet-to-be-decided appeal costs due to its “generalised remarks” when it refused the larger plan.