South Hornchurch land can’t be touched after residents win village green status victory
�Residents who took on a ‘David versus Goliath’ fight to protect a piece of land are celebrating after the site was given village green status.
Campaigners have become the first in Havering to have their bid for village green status accepted by the council.
Their battle centred on a developer’s bid to build on land next to the site between Ongar Way and Newtons Corner, South Hornchurch.
Cllr Michael Deon Burton (Independent Residents’ group) said: “When it came to Newtons Corner and the future for this green space, my residents were told it was a done deal.
“If ever there was an instance of David taking on Goliath, then this is surely it. I am so pleased for them and with the outcome.”
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Residents put in the bid after plans to build 52 dwellings on vacant garage sites next to the land, including a five-storey tower block, were agreed by the council.
As part of the application, residents had to prove that the land had been used for more than 20 years and they also included evidence from people who remembered playing there.
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Rainham and Wennington councillor David Durant (Independent Residents’ Group) praised the campaigners.
He said: “Other campaigners in the borough have tried to protect their land with village green status, but it is the first time it has been granted. It just shows that it is a successful approach and it can work.”
Residents have been able to reduce the number of homes being built on the garage site from 52 to 11.
They have also worked with the developers to ensure that it will be houses and fewer flats built.
Village green status means that the plot of land nearby will be protected from future development.
Campaigner Ian Weatherley said: “This is a huge victory for us because it means that we will always have that land to play on.
“It means that we can retain a little bit of green in the area and it protects the quality of life of those residents living in the area, but especially those who live closest to it.”