PLANS to build a new teenage psychiatric unit on a century-old cricket ground were finally approved tonight.

Last week, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Mental Health Trust narrowly won permission to build a 20-bed mental health unit on a two-and-a-half acre site at Warneford Hospital in Headington, Oxford.

However, the plans were called-in to the city council’s strategic development control committee, which had the power to overturn the decision. This evening its members voted unanimously in favour of the plans.

Nick Halfhead, fixtures secretary for United Oxford Hospitals Cricket Club, which uses the pitch, said: “We are devastated to be losing the pitch, but this is a very important unit so we have got to get things in perspective.”

The mental health trust was told if it did not start work on the project by March 31 it would lose £4.1m of Government funding for the £11m facility.

Health bosses feared teenagers would not be able to use the current 15-bed Highfield unit as it does not meet new Government requirements for single sex accommodation.

Youngsters could then be forced to make long journeys to London or Birmingham for psychiatric care.

The trust must first find another cricket pitch.