RESIDENTS on an Oxford estate are determined to stop development of the area’s popular nature park.

People in Barton have been told the park could be used for housing as part of the proposed 1,200-home Barton West development.

The project’s supporters say the scheme is key to solving the city’s housing shortages.

The development could include a primary school and shops, along with community and recreation facilities.

But people living in Harolde Close and Aldebarton Drive claim an area of land Oxford City Council has labelled ‘unused scrub land’ and earmarked for development is home to a number of wildlife species – and has been used by the community for almost 25 years.

Mother-of-five Sandra Lygo, 36, of Harolde Close, said: “We’re not against the development itself, but we are against it being built on our nature park.

“Our park is not only a refuge to wildlife, it’s a fantastic community resource, to be enjoyed by all.”

Ms Lygo has collected hundreds of names on a petition, along with support from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and Oxford East MP Andrew Smith.

She added: “If Barton Nature Park is bulldozed, there will be no place of natural beauty in this area and it will become yet another concrete jungle with all the problems surrounding that. There is a real sense of identity in this area and this will be destroyed if the proposed housing encroaches in the way which is currently proposed.

“Our nature park is full of natural beauty, with trees and plants and a variety of wildlife that are now established after 24 years.

“Local children planted saplings there 24 years ago and now these are fully-grown trees.

“We have seen bats flying through the nature park. We have seen foxes and deer in there.

“People pick blackberries. Bees and butterflies are in there.

“Local children have educational natural play in the nature park.

“In the winter when it snows we all call it Narnia, because it’s so beautiful.

She added: “Our nature park is beautiful all year round.

“Why should we have this privilege taken away and destroyed?

“It shouldn’t be about how many houses can be crammed on a space, but how we can build a successful and thriving community.”

Oxford City Council insisted no decisions had yet been made about the nature park.

A spokesman added: “The Barton development is currently out to consultation until June 24.

“The preferred options for the development have been published to stimulate debate and invite comment, and we will consider these comments alongside other feedback.”

A copy of the petition has been placed in Barton Neighbourhood Centre, in Underhill Circus, for people to sign.