Warneford Meadow. Photo: Afry CC-BY-SA-3.0

Warneford Meadow. Photo: Afry CC-BY-SA-3.0

Campaigners fighting for access to an Oxford open space have won a battle against a health trust.

A High Court judge rejected an application for judicial review of a decision to register Warneford Meadow as a town green. Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Trust had contested Oxfordshire County Council’s decision to grant the status to the area in east Oxford in April 2009.

Local resident Paul Deluce made the application for the meadow to be registered as a green in 2006. He was backed by the Friends of Warneford Meadow and the Open Spaces Society, which contributed £500 to the cost of the case.

The trust, which owns the land, argued that signs had made it clear that the landowner was contesting the public’s use of the land, and that there was insufficient evidence of use by people who lived in the immediate neighbourhood.

To be registered as a green, it must be demonstrated it has been used by local people for ‘lawful sports and pastimes’ – informal recreation – for 20 years, freely and openly.

Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust joined the landowning trust in the application for judicial review. The trusts had submitted plans to sell the meadow and adjacent playing fields for development for student accommodation and other housing in 2006.

Town and village greens are protected from encroachment and development.

Judge Waksman QC rejected the application for judicial review in a verdict yesterday.

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, said: “We congratulate Paul Deluce and the Friends of Warneford Meadow for their public-spirited and courageous campaign.

“This is an important area of relatively wild land close to Oxford city centre. It is much loved and treasured by the public as a green lung.

“Through their persistence and determination the Friends have secured this space for recreation and enjoyment by the public, and as a haven for wildlife. The land was threatened with development, but now it is protected as a green. We hope it is safe for ever.”

The land was bought by the Warneford Hospital in 1918 to provide outdoor recreation for patients and protect it from housebuilding.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Campaigners begin second phase of battle of Warcop commons as inquiry resumes
  2. Walkers could gain access to Cumbria and North Yorkshire commons
  3. Walkers’ champion dies, aged 64, after cancer battle
  4. Campaigners question need for ‘draconian’ forest sell-off law
  5. Outdoor campaigners’ alarm at plans for footpath team cuts