Ramblers, environmentalists and residents have joined forces to prevent building on an Oxford meadow.

Warneford Meadow, in Headington, has been earmarked for development in the city council's Draft Oxford Local Plan for the period until 2016.

On Friday, June 18, about 80 campaigners filled Cheney Community Centre, in Cheney Lane, Headington, to voice their fears about plans for the site.

At the meeting, several people voiced their opposition to the proposals, which include using the meadow to build housing for workers at the nearby Warneford Hospital, or student accommodation for Oxford Brookes University.

Environmental author Mark Lynas, who has been spearheading the Save Our Meadow campaign, said housing developments in Oxford were destroying the landscape. He said: "It's very important that we conserve this land. We're losing more and more of our green spaces to soul-less executive homes.

"We complain about children's obesity, yet we're busy concreting over some of the only places children can play. We have to ask the question, when is it going to stop?"

Resident Rob Sykes said the meadow was home to hundreds of rare species of insects, birds and mammals which needed protecting.

He said: "There's no other site in the city that has such a dense population of grasshoppers. There are 72 species of birds. Of those, nine are on the national red list for being of conservation concern." Green county councillor Craig Simmons said he opposed the proposals because it would put more pressure on the city's transport infrastructure, cause potential for flooding and take away a valuable amenity.

Tony Joyce, chairman of the co-ordinating committee of Headington residents' associations, said: "The fields represent one of the last natural areas that we can get to on foot."

Keith Holly, footpaths secretary of the Oxford branch of the Ramblers' Association, said the meadow was of great importance for the city as a whole and for the people who live in it.

He said: "In Warneford Meadow there are several rights of way footpaths which form part of a network which we're very fortunate to have. What's important for recreational walkers is the diversity of things to see."

The campaigners plan to hold a picnic at the meadow in August to highlight their campaign.

No-one from Oxford Brookes University or the Warneford Hospital was at the meeting to comment.