Plans to turn offices in an old malthouse in Banbury town centre into 25 flats were rejected by one vote.
Cherwell District Council planning committee members were split over the proposal which officers believed would be an unnecessary loss of employment space.
At the meeting on Thursday (February 15), some councillors believed the grade two-listed Old Malthouse on St John’s Road needed to be safeguarded.
Banbury representative Cllr Surinder Dhesi said: “We should be protecting our buildings of historical importance and I think the proposal will damage it.”
Cllr Andrew Beere believed 25 flats would be too many, saying the building should not be ‘mucked around with’, and Cllr James Macnamara feared there would not be enough affordable homes.
But Cllr Ian Corkin argued old buildings often need regenerating and the extra residential space would bring more people into the town centre.
“If the transformation gives it a longer lease of life and provides more people living, working, using the facilities of the town centre, then I support the application,” he said.
While Cllr Mike Kerford-Byrnes just said it was ‘deja vu’ how the conversion of Crown House was supported but this similar application was not.
Owner Mark Morrison made an impassioned plea to the councillors to work together but the proposal was refused by seven votes to six.