Langel Common will be protected from development and preserved as public green space after the council and local residents joined forces to buy it.
Residents have helped raise the funds to purchase the land which lies between the town centre and Cogges and is owned by Eton College.
West Oxfordshire District Council's cabinet member for planning and sustainable development Carl Rylett said it was a fantastic opportunity to put in place covenants to secure it for public open space in perpetuity.
The council came together with the Protect our Meadow residents fundraising group to generate the funds and their offer has been accepted and the land withdrawn from auction.
Chair Phoebe Lloyd said she was “ecstatic” that they were able to protect the meadow for generations to come.
She said the auction came to the residents’ attention in March.
“Everyone was quite concerned that we would be seeing a residential development on this piece of land which many of the residents hold dear.
“When it was first entered into the auction we collectively looked to see if we could raise the funds.
“The council contacted us and said they were also looking at the piece of land and trying to take it out of the auction, would we like to team up with them.”
She said this was an attractive prospect as the council could offer the community group their technical expertise and their contacts.
And with just a week until the auction, Ms Lloyd said the response of locals in coming forward and pledging support was “phenomenal”.
"The support generated in such a short timescale really shows the strength of feeling that the community has for this land and how important it is for the wider community and the wildlife that we share it with," she said.
The popular meadow alongside the River Windrush has a Second World War Norcon pillbox and a local primary school.
It is used to walk and cycle from the east of the town centre and has St Mary’s Church and Cogges Manor Farm next door.
District deputy leader and town councillor for Witney North & East Duncan Enright said the land “forms part of a really important green stripe of land through the middle of the town”.
It has Glebe Field next to it, which is owned by the church, and other surrounding fields are under the control of the council while it eventually connects to Witney lakes.
He said: “Our concern was that it might be bought and used for something that wasn’t open access for the public and so we wanted to preserve it for all time and we hope that that is now what we have done.”
He said having countryside in the middle of a town “is quite unusual and therefore very valuable”.
Mr Rylett said: ”We know that having access to green space in towns is good for our residents’ well being, and the purchase ensures that it will remain accessible for our residents.”
He added: “By purchasing green space, the council can prevent development and preserve public amenity in perpetuity and can work with communities to meet the current and future needs and aspirations of residents.”
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