Campaigners were celebrating today after being told that a planning inspector has recommended Warneford Meadow in Oxford should be given Town Green status.

The final stage of an inquiry into whether the piece of land should be declared a Town Green was held in May.

County council spokesman Paul Smith said this morning that planning inspector Vivian Chapman had contacted the authority to recommend the meadow in Headington should be given Town Green status, under the 1965 Commons Registration Act.

This status protects it from future development.

The NHS owns the meadow and has earmarked the land for development, but campaigners from the Friend of Warneford Meadow insisted the green space has long been used as a public recreation area.

At the inquiry, they gave evidence to show a significant number of residents have taken part in lawful pastimes — such as playing football or walking their dogs — on the 18-acre meadow for at least 20 years.

Campaigners raised almost £40,000 to pay for the legal costs of contesting the inquiry.

Mother-of-two Sietske Boeles, 55, of Southfield Road, Headington, said: "This is wonderful news and we now expect county councillors to approve the planning inspector's recommendation.

"There is an orchard attached to the meadow and I understand that will also be preserved.

"The meadow is a real focal point for the community and people come running here or walk their dogs along the footpaths or go bramble picking.

"My two daughters, Anna, 19, and Sarah Janie, 16, used the meadow and when I worked at the Warneford Hospital as a psychiatrist I walked across the meadow to work.

"The meadow links lots of different parts of Oxford and is a real haven for wildlife."

Mr Smith confirmed the council's legal department had received the recommendation from Mr Chapman that the meadow should be given Town Green status.

He added: "The council's planning and regulation committee will now consider granting the meadow Town Green status on planning grounds."

The recommendation to grant the meadow Town Green status follows a similar battle in North Oxford, where residents successfully campaigned for Town Green status for the Trap Grounds, near Port Meadow.