MORE than 780 people have backed a campaign to save a green space next to the Lye Valley nature reserve under threat from development.

Oxford City Council approved plans to build 10 homes on the patch of grassland east of Warren Crescent last month.

But hundreds have now signed the Friends of Lye Valley's petition calling on the local authority to designate the land as local green space, which would protect it against development.

Turley Associates first submitted plans to develop 10 three-bed homes near the nature reserve in June 2013 but then submitted further amended plans in September.

Oxford City Council's east area planning committee approved the proposals last month, which include car parking, cycle and bin storage and creation of a public footpath.

Developers said they worked with Natural England to create with a drainage system that would limit the impact on spring water feeding into the Lye Valley nature reserve.

But residents have said they are not convinced there was enough evidence proving the sustainable draining systems would protect the fen.

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

Friends of Lye Valley secretary Heather Armitage said councillors pledged to "call in" the application, allowing planning officials to review the proposals and give the group more time to voice their concerns.

In his report to the committee last month, planning officer Andrew Murdoch said plans would make "efficient use" of the site, which has been allocated for residential use.