A public inquiry will be held shortly into an application for land to the rear of Gorsey Bank Primary School to be registered as a village green.
Cheshire East Council, who own the land, objected to the village green application and decided back in 2010 that a non-statutory public inquiry be held.
Local resident Chris Stubbs, on behalf of the Friends of Gorsey Field, submitted a village green application in March 2009, for the top field behind the school - which is bounded to the north by Alton Road and to the west by Gorsey Road.
According to Mr Stubb's application the land is a village green because it has been used as of right for lawful sports and pastimes for a period of at least 20 years, by a significant number of the residents of Pownall Park. His application is accompanied by 97 supporting statements.
Mr Stubb's application is based on use of the land for football, rugby, cricket, rounders, ball games and dog-walking, and also for dog training, picnics, cycling, kite and model aeroplane flying, sledging, berry picking, hide and seek, tag, bird watching, tree climbing, playing with children and general recreation.
Objections to the application have been submitted by Cheshire East Council and by the Governing Body of the Gorsey Bank Primary School. They have objected on the grounds that any use is not: by the inhabitants of a locality or neighbourhood, by a significant number of such inhabitants, use "as of right" and the uses claimed do not qualify as lawful sports or pastimes. 83 objections have been lodged.
Chris Stubbs said "There appears to be some concern that the application, if successful, will impact on Gorsey Bank School's activities. I don't believe this would be the case, as the application only covers the "top field", an area that gets minimal use from the school at present, and has been ruled out of bounds for Reception and Years 1 and 2. Access would be available to all, so the area would still be accessible for the school to use when required.
"The reason for the application is unchanged from when it was first submitted, and is to ensure the area of land does not become subject to development and is available for the use of future generations of Pownall Park residents and the local community, including the pupils at Gorsey Bank School."
Karen Mclaughlin, a parent at the school who will be speaking at the inquiry, said "A few years ago the school made the playing field larger as the number of pupils has doubled since Gorsey Bank opened 50 years ago. This meant that the average square metre of open space per child was brought up to date and now complies with the current curriculum requirements. Gorsey Bank now has 420 pupils in the school.
"The school erected a fence that would keep our children safe and still allow for aesthetics to local residents by being able to see the green space rather than a solid structure around the field which would obstruct the view of the grass.
"At the time that the planning application was submitted there was scaremongering among local residents that the school had extended the field so that they could sell the land off in the future to developers or build further onto the school and make it much bigger. These rumours are totally unfounded and untrue. It was also suggested that the children barely used the top end of the field.
"The whole field is used every day during break times, for P.E., sports clubs and running club. Sports Day illustrates just how much all of the field space is required to accommodate all of the children at one time."
Karen added "We have the Carnival Fields, Carrs, Lindow Common and the grassed area behind the fence and yet village green application is being sort so that local residents can have picnics and bird watch in our children's playing space!!"
Mr Stubbs disputed the grounds on which the objection is based so the Public Rights of Way Committee decided to proceed with a non-statutory public inquiry, which should cost the Council in the region of £15,000. As the Council is the objecting landowner it was felt appropriate to introduce an element of independence.
Mr Stubbs added "Having seen a letter being circulated by Gorsey Bank School, I would just like to reiterate that the portion of land in question is from the top of the bank, where the old fence used to be, to the new fence - nothing like the 50% mentioned.
"Given the number of school playing fields that have been sold off in recent years, the fact that the Council may have no current plans for development is small comfort. The granting of village green status would protect the land, should the Council ever have a change of heart, and would ensure the school (along with everyone else) would still have access to the area."
Mr Stephen Sauvain QC has been appointed to hold the public inquiry to determine the main issues - which appear to be whether the land has been used for lawful sports and pastimes over a period of at least 20 years; whether that usage has been 'as of right'; and whether any usage as of right has been by a significant number of the local residents.
A date has not yet been set for the inquiry but those who provided representations have until 26th June to inform the Council if they wish to speak at the inquiry. Mr Stephen Sauvain QC will then make his recommendation within 4 weeks of the closing of the inquiry and the decision will be made by Cheshire East Council, as the Registration Authority.