NEIGHBOURS are banding together to fight new council housing next to the Lye Valley Nature Reserve.

Plans for 10 council homes on a patch of grassland in Warren Crescent submitted by Turley Associates on behalf of Oxford City Council on June 24 have angered local residents.

Lye Valley, to the east of the Churchill Hospital, includes a site of special scientific interest but the new Friends group fears its eco-system will be damaged by the development’s drainage system.

Lye Valley has 20 types of plant on the Rare Plants Register that exist in fewer than 10 other county sites. Some of the plant and animal species date back to the Ice Age at the 4.5 hectare site.

In the plans from Turley Associates, it is stated that the development could affect the surface water flowing on to the reserve.

It is planning to put in a new drainage system but residents are not convinced it will not affect plants and invertebrates in the reserve.

They are also worried about the additional impact things such as garden sheds that new tenants might build.

Oxford ecologist and founder member of the New Marston Wildlife group Dr Judy Webb said: “We are angry about it as it will damage a site of national importance.”

Resident Terry Wood, of St Anne’s Road, added: “I am not happy.

“I want them to prove it works before they go ahead. If it doesn’t work it’s too late.

“If anything is built in the gardens it will starve the springs.

“So there will need to be constant control over tenants to make sure they don’t do it.”

“It’s a short term solution which will cause a long term problem for the site.

“I find it hard to understand how officers can be unaware of the importance of the site.”

Oxford City Council spokeswoman Louisa Dean said: “The importance of protecting the Lye Valley SSI was recognised at the outset of the project. “OCC have worked with Natural England to ensure that a sustainable drainage solution is achieved.

“The quality of the water entering the SSSI should be improved through this development. “The drainage cost had already been factored into the budget of this much needed affordable housing scheme.”

Turley Associates would not make any additional comment to the council’s.

The new Friends of Lye Valley group will meet at St Francis Church Hall Hollow Way, Headington tomorrow at 7.30pm.

The new housing would be three and five bedroom houses.

The planning decision will go to the east area planning committee on September 4 at 6pm in the Town Hall.