Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Friday, 19 February 2010

Cricket row over psychiatric unit in Oxford

Highfield Adolescent Unit
Health bosses say the current unit is not fit for purpose

Plans to build a new psychiatric unit for teenagers on a cricket pitch in Oxford could be jeopardised.

Approval for the centre at the Warneford Hospital site was given earlier this week, but the decision will now be reviewed.

Players at the United Oxford Hospitals Cricket Club said the development would be a great loss.

Health bosses said the current unit urgently needed replacing due to the poor state of the building.

The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health Trust (OBMH) added that the Highfield Adolescent Unit at the Warneford Hospital was "no longer fit for purpose".

Funding deadline

A planning meeting at the city council approved the proposal earlier this week, but several councillors exercised their right to force the decision to be reviewed.

I would always want to put the needs of some very ill children and young children above the needs of a cricket club
Julie Waldron, chief executive, OBMH Trust

The Trust said it owned the ground but would help pay for a new cricket site.

Andy Mosson, from the United Oxford Hospitals Cricket Club, said the city offered few other options.

He added: "We would prefer that they looked at others areas within their grounds and tried to relocate it in a different way or redesign the building so it could fit outside the perimeter of the cricket pitch."

If building does not start before the end of March, the trust fears it may miss out on £4m government funding allocated for the project.

Chief executive of the OBMH Trust Julie Waldron said not building the new site would be a "travesty".

She added: "If that happens, the young people will have to go Southampton, Birmingham or London.

"I would always want to put the needs of some very ill children and young children above the needs of a cricket club."

The decision will be reconsidered at a meeting on 24 February.



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