A CAMPAIGN to save Woodstock's threatened old railway station is gathering pace.

Berkeley Homes is seeking permission from West Oxfordshire District Council to build 30 apartments and houses, a new GPs' surgery, and retail units.

But Woodstock Town Council is objecting to the plans on the grounds they do not include provision for affordable housing, and the proposed health centre is not be large enough to replace the town's surgery, in Park Lane.

Youngs Garage, the site of the proposed development, includes the former Blenheim and Woodstock station building, which would be demolished if the plans went ahead.

Town councillor Colin Carritt said the council wanted to see the site redeveloped, but said the plans were unsatisfactory as they stood.

He told the Gazette: "We are delighted to see things moving forward. It's a derelict site.

"But we object to the design brief.

"There's no affordable housing included in the plans, and the size of the site is not big enough to meet the Government's expectations for the future - with much more treatment offered at local surgeries, rather than at frontline hospitals."

He added: "We believe the old railway station should be protected as a historic building.

"We have been in touch with English Heritage to see if we can get it listed. The developers may not be able to meet every single one of the town council's objections, but there's an awful lot more they could do to improve the plans."

Charles Stiller, of Brook Hill, last month appealed to the residents to fight to protect the old station, opened in 1890, but which saw its last train in 1954, when the branch line off the Oxford-Banbury route was closed.

He said: "A new health centre may be broadly welcomed.

"It is proposed, however, to demolish the former railway station, which is largely intact, and is the main surviving element of a notable episode in the history of Woodstock."

In principle, senior doctors at Woodstock Surgery, in Park Lane, welcomed the idea of moving to the new site, but they, too, had concerns.

Spokesman, Dr Duncan Becker, said: "We are very aware of needing a more modern building.

"However, we are very concerned about access problems and parking in the proposed new development," he added.

Berkeley Homes chairman, Andrew Saunders-Davies, said a conservation architect employed by the company had not deemed the railway station worthy of retention, and explained that if the plans included affordable housing, they would not financially viable.

He added: "The scheme is extremely sympathetic and high-quality, and provides a mix of properties, from one-bedroom flats to four-bedroom houses."