RUSKIN College head Audrey Mullender has criticised protesters fighting plans to build on fields it owns as ‘Nimbys’.

She said the college’s plans for between 175 and 193 homes in the Old Headington conservation area off the A40 northern bypass would provide vital housing.

Speaking after a resident gave an impassioned speech against the plans to city councillors, Prof Mullender said: “I think people’s views are quite mixed.

“I think there are a small number of local people who have taken quite a Nimby attitude and are looking after their own interests and dressing them up as other interests.”

The council has been consulting on plans for 1,200 homes on the opposite side of the A40, known as Barton West, and the Ruskin scheme. The council has the final say on both plans.

Prof Mullender said: “If you think about the desperate need for housing in Oxford, it is important to look at all available sites.

“We feel there is a romantic idyll that has built up.

“In fact, it is three fields that are quite muddy and damp and under used.”

She said the college’s main motivation was a “social obligation” for 50 per cent affordable housing at the site.

“She said she did not know the land’s sale value.

Resident Mark Pitt won a large round of applause after urging councillors to “save Ruskin fields”. He said: “If you care about building lives rather than houses, our priceless heritage, poor children having the same access to green space as better off ones, and the council’s reputational damage after the conservation area reduction, you must act now.”

Turning to Lord Mayor Elise Benjamin at Monday’s full council, he told her she had a “constitutional responsibility to act as the conscience of the council”.

Council leader Bob Price said a “significant” number of Labour members opposed the plan.