Campaigners have been left dismayed by the sale of a meeting house they had hoped would replace a district library in Oxford.

St Ebbe's Church bought the half-acre property in Lime Walk, Headington, for an undisclosed amount at an auction last week.

But users of the nearby Bury Knowle Library, which is likely to close by 2009, had hoped the site would provide an alternative home for the county council service.

The existing library, which has steep entrance steps, is unsuitable for many people such as wheelchair users and the elderly or infirm, and Oxfordshire County Council is looking for a new building.

Mary Hope, a member of the Headington Committee for Development Action (HCDA), said: "We had actually written to the chairman of the county council to plead with them to see if they could do something.

"This is the last open space for community use in Headington that is likely to come up for many years.

"We are very disappointed."

Members of St Ebbe's Church have indicated they would like to use all the land they have bought in Lime Walk, not just the 350-seater hall.

Sharon Peters, the church's administrator, said: "I imagine we will either want the space for car parking or we will try and seek permission to extend and build classrooms for Sunday Club groups.

"We are not completely sure what we will be doing with the whole building yet, but I don't think there will be a chunk significant enough to be used by the community."

But sharing the site could still be a possibility if a condition is attached to the approval of any future development of the property.

Richard Munro, head of cultural services at the county council, said officers were in the process of looking for a new library site.

He said: "Leasing space at what is now the church at Lime Walk is one option, but it depends on cost, general viability, and, of course, whether the city council makes the inclusion of a library a condition of development of the site."

David Rundle, a city councillor for Headington, said: "It would be great if St Ebbe's would consider other community use at that location.

"If not, it is urgent that the county council considers other sites in the area because we know there is a deadline to meet."