RESIDENTS in Headington are intensifying their campaign to stop Warneford Meadow being developed by a health trust.

They have organised a public meeting on Thursday, with councillors voting on the controversial application a few days later.

The Friends of Warneford Meadow, a group made up of local housing associations and environmentalists, will call on Oxford City Council to block development of the 20-acre meadow, next to the Warneford Hospital.

And they will question assurances that tens of millions from the development will be ploughed back into the local mental health service.

The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health Trust last month announced that it would be seeking to create accommodation for 685 students on the green site, not 1,950 as originally proposed.

But the scaling down of the "student village" seems unlikely to win over local residents at next week's public meeting, being held in Cheney School Assembly Hall.

Tony Joyce, chairman of the co-ordinating committee of Headington Residents' Associations, said: "It is a complicated application and we would all welcome greater clarity. But we all doubt the necessity of building on the meadow itself."

The Trust's decision to submit five separate planning applications to develop land at Warneford Meadow and Park Hospital in Headington, has also created problems for Oxford City Council.

Two applications were submitted for the Warneford Meadow and Park sites, one for residential use and one for research purposes. There was a further application to build social housing on a football pitch. City council chief planning officer, Michael Crofton Briggs, said: "Within four of these applications there are proposals for different uses, including student accommodation and key worker housing."

He said councillors would initially decide on whether the development was acceptable "in principle" in what would have to be a two-stage process.

The applications were further complicated when the Trust announced before Christmas its intention of cutting student numbers by two-thirds and halving the new buildings for research, health care and education.

The scheme goes before a joint meeting of city council's north east area and east area committees on January 23 and then the council Strategic Development Committee at the end of the month.

With the development expected to raise up to £30m, the co-ordinator of the Friends of Warneford Meadow, Dr Boeles Sietske, expressed concern about how much of the money would be invested in the local health service.

She said: "We have be repeatedly assured that all the money would go back into the local mental health service. But that would certainly represent a change in normal practice, which would normally see money going into central funding."

But a spokesman for the mental health trust, said: "The money will be kept in mental health and kept in Oxfordshire. As we said it would be used to upgrade ward and patient environments."