A BID could be made to protect a historic Witney sports ground from development over fears it will be used for housing.
Witney Town Council is looking at applying for town green status for the ground in Newland, used by Witney Mills Cricket Club.
It comes amid fears that owners All Souls College will move to build houses on the site. The college said it had no such immediate plans.
Those fears were heightened after the college said it would allow no new rights of way across the land. It issued an official notice in May which said residents would have a year to apply for it to be a town green.
Cricket club chairman Andrew Cannons told town councillors: “One of the things we want to understand is whether it is possible for the cricket club to get town green status and what it may cost.”
The cricket club’s five-year lease ended in March last year and it is in negotiations to sign a new similar agreement.
He told the town council meeting: “We’re also interested in the implications of a successful town green application in terms of what that may mean for the public use of the ground.”
The council agreed to seek advice about how to register for town green status.
Councillor Roger Curry said at last week’s meeting: “It’s important to the town because it’s a well established cricket green which would cost a lot of money to reproduce elsewhere.
“If the college develops that site this town council is going to be under pressure to find alternative appropriate sites for these activities.
“There’s a shortage of recreational facilities so it’s important that we do all we can to support any attempt to protect this site.”
The six-acre grounds have been used for cricket for more than 100 years.
Angus Richards, of property management firm Smiths Gore, which manages the site for the college, previously said there was “no specific intention” to build housing.
But he also said things may change at some point.
He said the rights of way notice was something the college had done throughout its landholdings in rural areas.
He added: “There’s no link between the action and anything to do with development.”
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11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
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