Sheffield residents trying to protect a green space from developers could be nearing the end of their 14-year fight.
A group of people living in Walkley have been battling for years to keep an area known as Lower Walkley Green out of the hands of builders.
The land, between Walkley Bank Road and Woodview Road, is not registered – so its ownership is unclear.
But this has in the past led to developers trying to claim it as their own, according to residents.
A battle that began in 2003 led to an application to classify the area as a town or village green.
It is a criminal offence to encroach on, enclose or build anything on land registered in such a way unless it is to increase people’s enjoyment as part of its ‘proper use’.
Kate Jeeves was one of a number of residents who successfully fought off the interest of developers, partly by getting a footpath through the land recognised as a public right of way.
She put forward the application to register it as a green in 2008. But it was only yesterday that she finally got the chance to speak in front of Sheffield Council’s commons registration committee.
At Tuesday’s meeting councillors said there was no need to send the matter to a public inquiry, but it could instead be decided within the council at a later hearing.
Kate told the commiwttee the land was used more now by the public than it was when she first asked for it to be registered as a green.
“Children play on it all the time – every evening,” she said.
“We would like to see the land protected because it was under threat. That’s why we put the application in originally.”
Residents must demonstrate that the green space has been used by a ‘significant’ number of people for ‘lawful sports and pastimes’ for 20 years prior to the application being submitted.
‘Significant’ does necessarily mean large. According to council officers the number of people has to be enough to show the land is in ‘general use by the local community for informal recreation, rather than occasional use by individuals as trespassers’.
Kate, who submitted statements from scores of people as part of her application, added: “It’s a nice bit of greenery for local people, it’s very safe and it would be a tragedy for it to be built on.”