The future of a major West Sussex music festival is in doubt after Chichester College refused to let it be staged in its grounds.

Organisers of the Rox 2003 Music and Arts Festival had agreed with the college to hold a two-day festival for up to 5,000 people at Westgate Fields in front of the college.

More than 35 bands and artists were set to perform at the event but the move had horrified elderly residents living close to the college at Tollhouse Close and the Marriot House Rest and Nursing Home.

They feared problems with excessive noise, litter, parking problems and anti-social behaviour.

Despite the pensioners' concerns, festival organisers had hoped Chichester District Council's licensing committee would allow the festival to go ahead but the college's decision to back out has caused further delays.

Now Robin Parker, Rox's head of marketing, is trying to find another venue.

He said: "The official line is we have withdrawn the application for reasons beyond our control.

"But the main reason is, at the last minute, the college refused to let us use its grounds.

"We are talking with other people about another venue. We intend to do something in Chichester and we are still going all out for a major event."

In a council report, college principal Dr Richard Parker wrote: "In our dealing with the Rox organisation, we have found them to be highly professional in their approach.

"We are confident they would manage all aspects of health and safety, crowd control and policing so the event would be an enhancement to the cultural life of Chichester."

Dr Parker was unavailable to comment but a spokeswoman confirmed the college had now decided against the use of Westgate Fields.

The festival, which has been running for 14 years, was planned to take place on July 5 and 6.

In previous years, people attended the event at Bognor seafront and Fontwell racecourse.