CAMPAIGNERS may have won the battle to save the former Blenheim and Woodstock railway station.

Berkeley Homes has spent almost three years trying to develop the Oxford Street site, currently used by Youngs Garage, into homes.

It has applied to West Oxfordshire District Council three times in the past, but each time the application was rejected.

All of the previous applications sought permission to demolish the old station building, which residents see as an important piece of heritage.

The housing company has now reapplied to the council for permission to build 31 homes, but this time the application states the old station building would be retained.

Woodstock resident Dennis Allen, of Rectory Lane, said: “I’m very, very pleased. It saves the station, which is what so many local people wanted to happen, and preserves that entrance into Woodstock. It needed a development on that piece of land for a long time, but previous plans were inappropriate or too large in scale — and demolished the old station and part of our heritage.”

The station was built in 1890, and was often used by Winston Churchill, as well as the Prince of Wales and the Crown Prince of Germany, later Kaiser Wilhelm II.

But it became the first major Oxfordshire railway station to succumb to closure when the last train ran in 1954.

Woodstock Town Council joined residents in opposing previous applications.

Councillor Trish Redpath, who spoke on behalf of the town council at district council planning meetings, said she was pleased with the latest application.

She said: “The town has been very focused on trying to get a scheme which did retain the station building, and I have been supported in that by the district council. The new application hasn’t come in front of the town council yet, but I would say that we are pleased that Berkeley Homes has listened to what we are saying.”

The town council had applied for the station to become a listed building, but this was rejected as the building was not recognised as of national importance.

If accepted, Youngs Garage and other outbuildings on the site will be demolished, and 31 new homes, in a range of sizes, will be built.

Two offices and the upper floor of another building will also be converted into homes, while the old station building will be turned into three workshops.

The site will also include 71 square metres of commercial space and 68 car park spaces. Staff from Youngs Garage and Berkeley Homes declined to comment.

But, in the planning application, Berkeley Homes said: “This site presents the opportunity to redevelop an unattractive and partially redundant backland area to provide new housing in a sustainable location, protect the existing listed buildings and enhance the character of the immediate surroundings and the conservation area.

“The retention, restoration and conversion of the original station building will preserve a popular local landmark, albeit not one that either the district council or the last appeal inspector have indicated should be retained at all costs.”

West Oxfordshire District Council is likely to decide on the plans at an uplands area planning subcommittee on May 2.