RESIDENTS have launched a campaign to give a popular field Village Green status to protect it for future generations of Hilperton.

Forty-one residents submitted letters and photos as part of the application to prove that Church Field in Hilperton, near Trowbridge, has been in constant use for the last 20 years, despite it being private property. Although three designated footpaths run through the field, residents need to prove that the whole field is used regularly by dog walkers, runners and families. Land owners say that the field has not be in constant use due to periods when cattle are there.

Elizabeth Pike, of the family who own the land, said: “I am the 4th generation of our family farming Hilperton. The village already has a green space where groups can go at their leisure near the village hall. I haven’t seen anyone playing football there or at weekends. I feel some of the applicants are more concerned about the present view from their back gardens and not for the village.”

Dave Powell of Goughs Solicitors, speaking on behalf of the land owner, said: “Some evidence supplied by residents should be scrutinised. It is unlikely it would satisfy the evidence required. Of the 41, only 13 letters can give evidence of full use for 20 years.”

However, supporter Heidi Hart said: “The field is in constant use by the local community. for informal recreation and is always occupied in some way by villagers. There are no other similar spaces in Hilperton where, for example, you can run your dogs freely off the lead or fly a kite without the obstacle of an overhead cable.”

Hilperton councillor Ernie Clark has supported the bid.

Hilperton resident Nicola Walker Westwood added: “Since 2008 I have been walking my dog around the circumference of the well trodden track. No one ever challenged me or asked me to keep to footpaths even when the grass is mowed once a year. The cows they are not permanently in the field and people still go there, although perhaps more carefully. In 2012/13 council planted trees at public expense.”

A non-statutory public hearing, that could take four to five days will be held to decide if village green status should be awarded.

The estimated cost to the council for the inquiry will be £15,000.