CAMPAIGNERS who battled to save Oxford’s Warneford Meadow from development may try to buy it from the Department of Health.

The meadow in Headington has been offered to both Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council.

But a price tag, believed to be in the region of £500,000, looks to have put off both local authorities.

But it has emerged that the Friends of Warneford Meadow group are now considering launching a fundraising campaign to acquire the site.

The group says it may seek to join forces with the city council or some other organisation. However, any such deal is likely to depend on the asking price being significantly lowered.

The land behind Warneford Hospital was given town green status in 2009, when a powerful campaign stopped Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health NHS Trust from selling the land for development. The land has remained in Department of Health ownership.

The city council said “an excessive” asking price meant it was unlikely to acquire the 20-acre green site. County Hall said that it had declined the offer of the site, between Headington and East Oxford.

But Chris Dunabin, of the FOWM, believes that the councils’ response could open the way for the Friends. He said: “After being offered to the city council, with no agreement reached, our understanding is the land will be open to bids from others including community groups.

“We are certainly thinking about a big fund raising campaign. We shall look at bidding on our own or in collaboration with others, possibly the city council."

Department of Health spokesman Ros Selby said: “Local interest groups will now have the opportunity to express an interest in bidding for the Meadow.”

She would not reveal how much the meadow was on sale for.