Village green bid is residents' last hope of protecting Cheltenham field from housing
RESIDENTS fighting to protect a former Prestbury sports pitch from developers are making a last desperate attempt to save it.
Campaigners in Prestbury were unsuccessful in their bid to stop plans for 300 homes at Starvehall Farm being approved in November.
But they are still hoping to prevent the old rugby pitch, off Prestbury Road, from being swallowed up by the proposals.
Their one remaining glimmer of hope is to have the pitch, which adjoins the parish council playing fields, granted official village green status.
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If successful, it could stop part of the Starvehall development being built on the site.
But to attain the status residents would have to prove the land has been used continuously for sport and recreation over the last 20 years.
Bob Stark, who lives in Prestbury, is calling on people living in the area to write to him detailing their personal memories of the land.
He said: "Our village green application was submitted in an attempt to retain this green land for people of Prestbury.
"The land has been owned by Gloucestershire County Council since 1963 and during all that time people have had access to it for recreation.
"The recreation land is now included in the Starvehall Farm proposals and will not only be built upon, but will have the new bypass going through the midst of it."
The village green application has been lodged with the county council, which owns the land. However, because the authority is also the applicant for the homes plan, a Government inspector may be called in to adjudicate in the matter.
Mr Stark added: "The inspector will seek to see and hear evidence the land has been used by residents for recreation continuously from 1963 up to the present day.
"We are now seeking memories of people who have used this land for games, dog walking or picnics, especially if these can be accompanied by pictures."
Village greens are areas where people have enjoyed legitimate sports or pastimes, as of right, for at least 20 years.
A spokesman for the county council said a public consultation into the village green application was ongoing.
People's recollections can be sent to Bob Stark at 10 Greenfields, New Barn Lane, Cheltenham GL52 3LG or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org