HEALTH officials are to appeal against a ruling giving Warneford Meadow in Oxford Town Green status.

A planning inquiry last year ruled that the 18-acre meadow next to Warneford Hospital should be protected from development, because it had been used by residents for sports and recreation during the past 20 years.

In April, campaigners in Headington celebrated after county councillors agreed to back the planning inspector’s recommendation.

But now Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust says it will challenge the inspector’s ruling at the High Court.

It wants to sell the land for development and use the money raised to improve its services. Spokesman Christian Mayr said: “The recent decision to designate Warneford Meadow as a Town Green has far-reaching implications for the local NHS, because without the release of these funds, we may have to consider borrowing money to upgrade our wards.”

Sietske Boeles, a spokesman for the campaigners, said: “Friends of Warneford Meadow is deeply disappointed that the trust has chosen to spend public money to prolong the uncertainty about the future of the Meadow, and impose substantial legal costs on the county council and on residents, when the factual and legal issues have already been thoroughly considered by the public inquiry.”