Opening blows have been exchanged at a an inquiry to determine whether Codnor Common should be registered as a village green.
The hearing, which began at Lumb Farm on Monday and is expected to conclude on Thursday, March 28, aims to find out whether the whole of a stretch of farmland between the two villages has been used without the need for permission for lawful pastimes over the past 20 years.
If the application, lodged on behalf of residents, is approved it will block future development on the site - including an already approved plan for 98 houses there by Peveril Homes.
For the applicant, speakers argued ‘the Common’ should be protected as it has been used for cricket, football, dog walking,school trips and more. Brenda Kyte of Holborn View, Codnor, said the land has become an important meeting ground for the communities over the years.
She said: “Some people living alone would not see or speak to each other if it were not for this facility. Although the Common is not a typical village green complete with a duck pond, nice grass and hedges, it’s worthy of that status.”
Another speaker Ginette Clarke, 31, of Eastfield Road, Codnor, spoke of the diversity of wildlife on the land and its importance as a facility for nearby schools to explore.
But objectors Peveril Homes says the village green bid should ‘fail automatically’ because there was a period in 2001 when the Common was closed to the public. The farm land, grazed on in parts by cattle, was cordoned off due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, it claims. It also argues that not all of the site is used, due to boggy areas and long grassland on the site.
Derbyshire County Council have employed inspector Richard Honey to produce a report from the inquiry. The authority will make a decision based on his recommendations.
The application has received 81 letters in support.