ALMOST 700 people have backed a campaign to save a “tranquil” green space under threat from development.

The Friends of Lye Valley launched an e-petition calling on Oxford City Council to designate land east of Warren Crescent, next to the Lye Valley nature reserve, as local green space, which would protect it against development.

A planning application for 10 houses on the site, first submitted two years ago, is set to be discussed at a council meeting in February.

Friends of Lye Valley secretary Heather Armitage said the area was used by families, including young children, who would have nowhere else to play if the area was developed.

She added: “It is a very lovely area. It has got trees overshadowing it, it’s got daisies, and children enjoy playing there.

“Our green spaces are really important and we need to save them.

“You need them near where the kids are playing and parents can see them.

“What we would like is for it to remain as open green space, beneficial for local people and for the sake of Lye Valley.”

Turley Associates first submitted a planning application to develop the patch of land in June 2013, but amended plans it put in in September will be discussed at an east area planning committee meeting in February.

Ms Armitage said it was also vital to protect the land, known by residents as Warren Meadow, as it was a rainwater catchment area for the ancient Lye Valley Fen.

The 4.5 hectare site, which dates back to the last Ice Age, boasts 20 species of plants on the county’s Rare Plants Register and relies on rainwater which trickles down from the grassland.

She added: “Our concern is that it is also on a rainwater catchment area for the springs that go down to the Lye Valley Fen.

“If you change that, never mind what mitigating measures you put in, you will be changing the flow of water to this very important fen.

“The Lye Valley is such a rare site we should not experiment with it.”

Raymund Road resident Sue Brough said she strongly objects to the planning application, which would “irrevocably damage” the fen.

She added: “ Children in the area are already suffering from the effects of car pollution which include increased levels of asthma and allergy.

“Concreting over the green space which lies directly above the fen would only make the situation worse.”

Turley Associates associate director Anthony Harding said the company had worked with Natural England to come up with a drainage system that would limit the impact on spring water feeding into the Lye Valley Nature Reserve.

The e-petition closes tomorrow – see