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Land battle victory for residents

PUBLISHED: 19:37 30 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:32 05 July 2010

PEOPLE power looks set to win the day in a battle to save a piece of open land in Lowestoft from being built on.

Suffolk County Council is set to ratify an independent inspector's earlier recommendation that land off Green Drive and Walmer Road, in Pakefield, should be granted village green status - preserving it for the use of the local community.

PEOPLE power looks set to win the day in a battle to save a piece of open land in Lowestoft from being built on.

Suffolk County Council is set to ratify an independent inspector's earlier recommendation that land off Green Drive and Walmer Road, in Pakefield, should be granted village green status - preserving it for the use of the local community.

The county council owns the site of the former Lowestoft golf course and its education department wanted to build a pupil referral unit (PRU) for children with emotional or behavioural problems.

However, a public inquiry was called after residents claimed the site had been used for sport and leisure for many years and should be preserved as public open space.

The EDP reported in March how inquiry chairman Ross Crail recommended the village green status should be granted, but that it was the responsibility of the county council to rule on this.

Now the council's rights of way committee, which meets on June 5, is being recommended to grant the status on the site measuring just over three acres.

The news was greeted with delight and relief by resident Chris Corby, who represented the community at the public inquiry.

He said: “I'm absolutely delighted. It all looks well and I can't really imagine that the committee will go against the recommendation.

“If anybody tries to do anything with the land they will face prosecution because it will be protected. We are all very happy.”

Mr Corby, 61, who was chosen to represent his neighbours in a bid to avoid expensive legal costs, urged other communities to stand up and be counted if they felt strongly about preserving open space.

“My message to other people is 'go for it.'” he added. “The more we looked into it, the more the village green application seemed the way to go.

“You can't go into it lightly. You've got to be very thorough and get as much evidence as you can.”

Under law, town or village green status can be given to land if it can be proved it has been used by the public for more than 20 years.

In light of the imminent protected status of the land at Pakefield, the county council has been on the hunt for an alternative site and has earmarked land at the Harris School, in Church Road, Lowestoft.

A council spokesman said consultation was taking place and that the preferred site was on a playing field detached from the main school site.

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