VILLAGERS are campaigning to get a road re-named in protest at an Oxford college's plans to build 700 homes.

Residents in Fyfield want the name of St John's Close changed to reflect their anger at St John’s College, which is hoping to sell 85 acres of farmland in the parish.

A parish-wide petition, which has shown unanimous opposition to the development, will today be handed in to the college.

Campaign member Tim Dougall said: "It's all the more upsetting because this parish is the birthplace of St John's College and was part of Thomas White's original endowment of land to it in 1555.

"We've twice invited the college president to meet with local residents, a number of whom are tenants of the college, but she declined.

"The development is unsound: no proper thought has been given to environmental damage, air pollution or the traffic problems on the A420 and A415 that will arise."

The site stretches from the A420 in the north to the A415 in the south and is closer to the village of Kingston Bagpuize, thought it is in the parish of Fyfield and Tubney.

Vale of White Horse District Council has made the site an official part of its draft local plan for housing, and housing developer Lioncourt Strategic Land, working with the college, submitted a draft proposal for 700 homes to the council in September.

Villagers estimate the sale could net the college £85m, but the estate would still need to get permission from the council's planning committee.

If the homes go ahead, they will quadruple the population of the parish which currently has just 200 homes.

Villager Claire Cable-Alexander said: "Given this represents a 300 per cent increase in parish size and that the college is a charity hoping to make lots of money from this, you'd think someone from St John’s would have had the courtesy to consult with us as part of their proposal.

"The college should be ashamed of the impact its actions are having on this part of Oxfordshire."

St John's principal bursar Andrew Parker said the college had offered the land 'to help meet Oxfordshire's housing needs'.

He said the plans would be subject to a full consultation process through the council, when the question of local impact would be considered.

St John's founder Sir Thomas White bought land in the Fyfield area when he liquidated his investments in London, in preparation for founding a college at Oxford.

Mr Parker said that selling a 'small portion' of Sr Thomas's original donation was consistent with his original intentions for it to support St John's activities.