Campaigners battling to save a open space say they are "thrilled" after hearing it will be granted a village green status.  

Homeowners on the Dover’s Farm Estate in Rainham fought for years to save the green space in New Zealand Way from development after previous planning applications proposed building houses on it.

In a cabinet meeting on Wednesday (May 3), Havering Council approved proposals to create village green status for five spaces in the borough.

These include land at Gooshays in Harold Hill, and Wennington Green in Wennington Village, land west of Taunton Road in Harold Hill and the Fleet Close Play Site in Upminster.

This means that the council, listed as the landowner, can start the process to register them as protected spaces that will remain undeveloped ‘in perpetuity’.

Colin Bloor, 61, who has lived on the estate all his life and was involved in the campaign, said the community is thrilled.

He said: “We like that it will now get the legal protection so we can now relax and believe it will always be there available for us into the future."

Colin said he had grown up playing on the greens as a child, and the space holds a special place in his life.

He added: “People take their dogs for a run or just go over there because it’s the only open piece of green of decent size other than a patch a grass on the corner of the street.  It is the only actual play area that we have.”

Michael Shorey, 37, likes to go on walks on the green and believes they are lucky to have the peaceful space on their doorstep.

He added: “If you go over it you could hear lots of birds singing on a nice sunny day, we know people have seen bats over there as well."

He said it is the only open green space for the houses around it, and building houses there would have also changed the look of the estate.

He is pleased that the council has listed to residents' objections and made a “sensible decision”.

He said: “The south of the greens is a flood risk area, so development would have put more strain on it."

Sonia Roberts, 62, who spoke on behalf of the group, told the Recorder that when there are a lot of concerns about children’s mental health and wellbeing, spaces like these are vital in the community.

She added: “It is very important that children have somewhere to play and Rainham already is so developed, this little green space is an asset for everybody."

Three planning applications were considered by the council for the space in the past. In 2018, 30 new homes were to be built on it. But the campaigners protested outside town hall, urging the council to turn it down, and organised various events to show solidarity.

After the proposal was ultimately rejected, the group, supported by local councillors, applied to council to grant it a village green status. The council in turn, hired lawyers and spent over £100,000 to block it legally.

Colin, recalling the campaign, said: “That was our own money that was used to deny our own wishes”. The campaigners lost the case, and almost believed they had lost hope. Now, they are “over the moon” over their victory.

Cllr Matthew Stanton, who has led the campaign in the past, along with councillors Graham Williamson and Trevor McKeever, said he was “proud” of this decision.  

He said: “This is just an icing on the cake really. We showed the previous administration exactly what our feeling was over the years.

“It has taken a change of administration and getting Labour councillors into the area to deliver what we campaigned for right from the start”.

Cllr Williamson added that they have honoured the pledge they had made before the election last year with this decision. He said: “There is pressure upon Council's to build more and more properties but it is important not to forget the mental and physical health of residents living in large estates. Green spaces are valuable assets.”