Campaigners apply to register The Stray in Harrogate as common land 'making it more difficult to host national events'

Campaigners have applied to register the Stray, in Harrogate, as common land - making it potentially more difficult to host national events there.

The Open Spaces Society, which campaigns for the protection of green spaces, wants to reverse a decision over 50 years ago to exclude the Stray’s 200 acres from registration under the Commons Registration Act 1965.

Hugh Craddock, a case officer for the society, said different maps over the centuries had slightly different versions and the process should provide a "fairly final and definitive version".

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He said: "We are certainly not talking about some of it ceasing to be Stray or anything significant added. It is roughly what everyone would expect it to be.

A shopper walks along the Stray in Harrogate underneath autumnal treesA shopper walks along the Stray in Harrogate underneath autumnal trees
A shopper walks along the Stray in Harrogate underneath autumnal trees

"There are just these little bits here and there which we would hope would be ironed out in the application process."

The Stray was described as looking like “the Somme” in the aftermath of the UCI World Road Championships in September 2019, when the cycling event was hit by torrential rain.

Mr Craddock said registering the Stray would "provide an added protection" on top of safeguards afforded by the Harrogate Stray Act 1985.

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But it could divide opinion among those who believe the Stray should be used for national events and those who think it should be kept for recreation.

North Yorkshire County Council has to advertise the application and people can make representations, but they have to fit the statutory criteria. The process could take up to a year.

Mr Craddock said: "It is possible some people will write in and say it shouldn't happen, it will interfere with centuries of very satisfactory local management - but that isn't a valid ground."

The Society has had recent success in registering 116 hectares of Lizard Downs in Cornwall as commonland.