THE decision to designate Oxford’s Warneford Meadow as a Town Green will go to the High Court next month.

A judicial review, challenging Oxfordshire County Council’s decision to register the meadow as a Town Green, will begin on February 25.

In April last year, County Hall backed a planning inspector’s recommendation that the 18-acre green site should be given the protected status.

Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Trust, which owns the land, wanted to dispose of the site near the Warneford Hospital for development.

Hundreds of local residents formed the Friends of Warneford Meadow to preserve the green space and to secure Town Green status, which would prohibit future development.

Julie Waldron, chief executive of the mental health trust, said the decision to proceed with a judicial review had only been taken after legal advice.

She added: “Selling the Warneford Meadow would release much-needed funds to upgrade our current in-patients’ units in Oxford.

“Without these funds, the trust will have to borrow money to upgrade our wards, which would result in us having to pay interest on the loans, diverting money away from patient care.”

She said the land had been marked for development in Oxford City Council’s Local Plan.

Andrew Carter, of the Friends of Warneford Meadow, said that the area contained a rich variety of wildlife and any development would threaten this.

He added: “The trust has chosen to spend many thousands of pounds of public money to prolong the uncertainty about the future of the meadow and impose substantial legal costs on the council and on residents, when the factual and legal issues have already been thoroughly considered by the public inquiry.”

County Hall said the council had received a recommendation from the planning inspector that the meadow should be given Town Green status.