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Campaigners' new plan to save fields
1:10pm Tuesday 21st February 2012 in Oxford
A CAMPAIGN group has threatened to try to turn Ruskin Fields into a town green to stop future development.
Friends of Old Headington last night warned it had enough evidence to protect the green space from further development.
Last year Ruskin College, which owns the 3.5 hectare fields, announced it wanted to build 150 houses on the site.
Its plans were not included in the draft Barton Area Action Plan – which will see 1,000 homes built on the opposite side of the A40.
But the college has not ruled out developing the site separately.
Now campaigners want to protect the site to stop any future housing.
Stoke Place resident Veronica Hurst, co-chairman of the Ruskin Fields group of Friends of Old Headington, said: “It is something we have been thinking about for a while.
“We are reviewing our options at the moment, but we want to be sure it will be a candidate for town green status.
“The fields have been used by the people of Headington for years. We have evidence of its regular use for the last 30 or 40 years.
“They are part of the local environment.”
The group hopes to follow the example of Warneford Meadow, in Headington, which was given town green status in 2009 – preventing Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Trust from seeing through plans to build on it.
Last year the Department of Health put the meadow up for sale.
“We are speaking to one of the people involved with turning Warneford Meadow into a town green and we will be hoping to use their experiences,” said Ms Hurst.
If land has been used as recreational space for more than 20 years it can be registered as a town green.
But Ruskin College principal Audrey Mullinder remained defiant.
She said: “We are taking legal advice on the plans to turn the fields into a town green and we are sure they don’t have a case.”
Meanwhile the people of Northway are finishing off an application to turn a strip of land along the Northern Bypass into a town green in order to prevent two roads being built between their area and Barton West.
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