Battle to declare old golf course a village green ends in defeat

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Campaigners who fought to save open fields from being turned into a business park have lost their battle for it to be declared a village green.

A group of residents were galvanised into action after seeing development starting on phase one of the park near Hessle.

But the Humber Bridge Board, which bought two-thirds of the land back in the 1970s when they were developing the bridge, said it had been a “fruitless exercise”, which had cost taxpayers dear.

Inspector Ruth Stockley has recommended that East Riding Council reject the residents’ application on the grounds that they failed to establish that they had used it for “sport and past-times as of right” over the last 20 years, and that it had been used by a “significant” number of people in the locality.

The fields, once part of Hessle Golf Course, are now destined - subject to a final decision by councillors in June - to become phase two of the Bridgehead park, which developers claim could create as many as 3,000 jobs.

But John Giles, who led the campaign along with wife Joan, said the numbers were “pie in the sky”.

And he said the land - home to over 300 species of wildlife - would now be “wrecked” when infrastructure works - part financed by the EU - begin.

He said: “We thought it was extremely important to preserve this land because of the diminishing number of open spaces in Hessle.

“Development is now intended to occur pretty much up to Swanland and that means more people and less spaces to walk in. There is a lot of under-utilised employment land at Melton three miles away and an unused site at Livingstone Road. The entry to Hessle and Hull has always been extremely attractive, full of trees; it will now be industrial sheds. (Talk of a green business park) is nonsense; it will be ploughed out by bulldozers. You can’t transplant ecosystems which take hundreds of years to develop.”

However Darryl Stephenson, clerk to the Humber Bridge Board, said around £80,000 of taxpayers’ money had been spent on a “fruitless exercise.”

He said: “Common sense has prevailed; it is a shame that so much expenditure has been occasioned on an unwarranted application. The application was about whether sufficient people had used the land as a village green for 20 years and the answer was no and was always no. Our understanding from (the developers) Wykeland is that there is a very considerable amount of interest in developing the land.”

The “windfall” from the land will now go towards developing a new visitor centre at the Humber Bridge.

A spokesman for Wykeland said they were continuing with plans “to create commercial space that will eventually house around 3000 jobs and represent an investment in the region of £150m.”

Bridgehead is home to housebuilder Beal Homes, which relocated from east Hull, a speculative state-of-the-art office building and a nursery is being built. Work starts in May on a further 90,000 sqft of business space.

He said the site aimed to be the greenest business park in the region, with 40 per cent of the land given to landscaping including 1.2km of pathways through the wooded areas. Wykeland had also planted thousands of shrubs, hedgerows, and bulbs, as well as 200 trees.