THE new owner of a site earmarked for student housing has said it has “no firm plans” about what to do with it.

Harcourt House, in Marston Road, has recently been bought by the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies after the previous owner, Oxford City Council , received an offer it could not refuse.

The centre, which is putting the finishing touches to its new headquarters across the road, is keeping its options open.

Centre registrar Richard Makepeace said: “It is a very long-term project from our point of view.

“This property was of particular interest because it is so close to the new building.

“We have an interest in the area and in it being maintained in the way that we and the residents hope.”

The council earmarked the site for student and teaching accommodation in its local plan though Mr Makepeace said the centre has a “variety of short and long-term options”.

In the meantime the site will be used for a temporary car park while St Clement’s car park is developed.

City councillor Ed Turner, executive member for finance and efficiency, told the Oxford Mail the offer which had been received from the centre was “highly advantageous” and that the council would be letting taxpayers down if they hadn’t accepted it.

The unspecified amount raised from the sale will be put towards the council’s capital programme, that is spent on major projects.