CAMPAIGNERS who battled for four years to save Oxford’s Warneford Meadow from development may soon get the chance to buy it.

The Friends of Warneford Meadow says the Department of Health plans to sell the 18-acre meadow, which sits behind Warneford Hospital between Headington and East Oxford.

The group took their fight to save the meadow all the way to the High Court, where a judge last year upheld an Oxfordshire County Council decision to register the site as a Town Green.

Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Trust had wanted to sell the meadow for development. But in 2009 it was given Town Green status by County Hall, under the Commons Registration Act.

The land, however, has until now remained in Department of Health ownership.

Andrew Carter, of the Friends group, said: “The department has said that it will give Friends of Warneford Meadow the opportunity to confirm whether they would wish to make a bid.

“A bid to purchase the meadow could be made by FoWM alone or in conjunction with other groups.

“But we must now await further information from the agents, once they have been appointed and the terms of sale have been decided.”

He said news of the sale was welcome and indicated that the meadow’s long term future as an important Oxford green space was secure.

Mr Carter said: “It shows that the department recognises that there is no prospect of building on the meadow, now it is registered as a Town Green.

“We look forward to working with the department and their agents, and with the city council and other bodies concerned to protect Oxford’s environment, to ensure that the meadow is conserved and enhanced for future generations to enjoy.”

Warneford Meadow adjoins the Boundary Brook wildlife corridor to the east, and provides a significant habitat for birds and animals.

It was originally purchased in 1918 by the Warneford Hospital to be used as therapeutic open space.

The Warneford Orchard, home to a number of rare apple tree species, sits on the meadow's northern border.

The Friends group will be holding its Apple Day on October 2, an annual event that sees an apple press set up on the meadow and people invited to bring bottles to fill with fresh apple juice.