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Fight to create village green

PUBLISHED: 13:15 11 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:45 05 July 2010

Villagers near Lowestoft are trying to register fields near their homes as a village green to stop them becoming part of a new housing estate.

The old Suffolk Fat and Bone Factory site, in Oulton, and the neighbouring field off Church Lane are popular with dog walkers, families and bird watchers and now locals are fighting at a public inquiry to stop the land being built on.

Villagers near Lowestoft are trying to register fields near their homes as a village green to stop them becoming part of a new housing estate.

The old Suffolk Fat and Bone Factory site, in Oulton, and the neighbouring field off Church Lane are popular with dog walkers, families and bird watchers and now locals are fighting at a public inquiry to stop the land being built on.

Kenneth Alexander, of Wood Lane, has applied for the land to be legally registered as a village green and now he has to prove to a planning inspector that it has been used for recreation by local people for at least 20 years.

But the owners of the two areas of land have objected to the proposal, claiming that the factory buildings were still on the site until about 15 years ago, restricting its use as public open space in the past.

The site already has outline planning permission to become part of the 800-home Wood's Meadow development, which was approved by Waveney District Council's development control committee in 2007.

Speaking at the opening day of the planning inquiry at the Wherry Hotel in Oulton Broad yesterday, Mr Alexander said: “The site is full of wildlife and enjoyed by all. Such sites are very few in our area and it would be a shame not to keep this for future generations to come and enjoy. No one has ever prevented me from accessing the site.”

Mr Alexander and his supporters argue that the factory, which used to process animal carcasses for disposal, closed in early 1987 and that the fields have been used by villagers ever since.

However Douglas Edwards, representing Danisco Beaminster, one of the landowners, said that contractor's documents show that the factory did not close until 1988 - less than 20 years since the village green application was lodged early last year -- and the last buildings were not demolished until 1993.

Mr Edwards said that a heavy-duty gate and fence were put in place in 1992 to stop trespassers getting in from Church Lane but Brenda Thrower, who lives in Grampian Way, told the inquiry that she walked her dog around the fields for more than 10 years.

She said: “There was a really good gate put across the path but it was only as wide as a car would drive.”

Mrs Thrower said that as well as being popular with dog walkers, she took her grandchildren to play on the site and often spent time bird watching there.

The planning inquiry is due to finish on Thursday and the inspector's report will be considered by Suffolk County Council early next year.

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