A recreation ground in north Oxford is under threat from plans to expand Wolvercote Cemetery.

Angry residents have called on councillors to give "priority to the needs of the living, rather than the dead". With the city fast running out of burial space, the idea of expanding Wolvercote Cemetery was included in the draft local plan. But families say Oxford City Council failed to consult them about getting rid of the recreation space and sports facilities in Five Mile Drive.

Ian Charles, of Linkside Avenue, who has daughters aged nine and six, said: "This is a ridiculous proposal. No one around here has been consulted about this. The area where we live is surrounded by roads on all sides. Cutteslowe Park is not far away, but it would require youngsters to cross a very busy road."

Ianthe MacLagan, a mother of three, said: "The recreation ground is the place people go to walk their dogs and where children can enjoy exercise. At a time when we are hearing about problems of obesity in children, we learn that we could lose this amenity."

The council said planning permission would only be granted for the expansion if the existing facilities were relocated or nearby amenities improved. A smaller playing area would also have to be created in Five Mile Drive. Peter Johnson, the executive member for parks and cemeteries, said: "We need to address this problem in the next two or three years."