£200k The continuing battle over the future of Warneford Meadow could cost taxpayers as much as £200,000, say city Greens.

Last month, Oxford City Council rejected plans by Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust to build on Warneford Meadow, Warneford Hospital playing field and land at the Park Hospital, in Headington.

But the trust, which is hoping to raise millions from the development, will take its case to an appeal hearing.

Green party city councillors estimate the cost of defending the decision to refuse permission for a student village on the site could cost the authority more than £100,000.

And Green party leader Craig Simmons said the NHS trust's appeal costs could easily equal that - with the taxpayer footing a combined bill that could top £200,000.

He said: "We have experience, with the pontoon at Folly Bridge, of seeing how these things stack up. This is probably bigger than that."

Mr Simmons said the Green councillors opposed the plans for Warneford Meadow but added that was not the issue. "Whether or not you are for or against this, this is not the way to go about it," he said.

City council deputy leader David Rundle said: "It's undeniable that appeals are a lengthy and costly process which do not necessarily help people come to an agreed solution.

"It would certainly be much better if there was serious engagement between the local community and the NHS trust, even at this 11th hour. But if it comes to a complete impasse and goes to appeal, it would be a sorry day for the city."

Julie Waldron, chief executive of the Oxfordshire and Berkshire Mental Health NHS Trust, said: "The trust does not yet know what the exact cost of any appeal might be, though we recognise it could reach as high as £200,000.

"We would rather it had been settled at the Strategic Development Committee in April, as a delay in the decision is a delay in us improving our wards and patient areas.

"However, we lodged the applications 10 months ago and it seems at this stage that we have no option other than to appeal if we are to get to a determination."