Oxford University has been given the go-ahead for a new research facility into childhood conditions such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A magnetoencephalography scanner is to be built on playing fields next to the Warneford Hospital in Headington, Oxford.

Residents had expressed concerns about the development, which is on a site protected as a green space before being earmarked for development in the Local Plan.

Stephen Heames, a resident from Hill Top Road, warned that it would be the first of many hospital buildings on the land.

He said: "There are 1,000 fields built on every year. This is a field too far. I have spoken to hundreds of residents and 295 of them said they did not want any development on this site or at Warneford Meadow."

Cricketers dropped their objections to the plans after the university moved the building to save cricket pitches next to the hospital.

Prof Anthony Bailey, a child psychologist, said the scanner needed to be as far as possible from electro-magnetic interference, caused by movement from things such as lifts and traffic.

He told councillors that Oxfordshire Mental Health Trust, whom the university has leased the land from, had agreed "in principle" that buildings with lifts would not be put next to the single-storey scanner building.

"At the moment, the mental health trust has no plans to put any other buildings on the cricket pitch or adjacent to it," said Prof Bailey.

"The scanner will be the first in the world to deal with children, and will especially be looking at behavioural orders such as autism and ADHD.

"These sorts of disorders are common and severe. We know very little about their brain basis or what is suitable treatment", he added.

City councillors approved the plans.

Jane Stooks's son George was diagnosed with autism at the age of two.

After developing normally up to that point he stopped speaking, would not make eye contact and had few social skills.

Mrs Stooks, 41, from Fritwell, said: "I think this new research facility is fantastic news for Oxfordshire and for the many parents of children with autism and ADHD.

"There is very little information for those whose children are diagnosed with these conditions and when people have planned research in the past, it has often been quashed.

"I think it is fantastic news that Oxford University is making this commitment and highly support it."