A BID to have open space in Otterbourne classed as a town green has been rejected.

In 2015 Jennifer Larby applied under the Commons Act 2006 for The Green, at Coles Mede, to be registered as a town green. Around 40 villagers backed the application, It went before Hampshire County Council’s Regulatory Committee on November 17, but councillors backed the officer’s view and voted it down.

Winchester City Council, which owns the land, objected to the application, saying that if the land was registered as a town green it would prevent the land being developed.

An application was lodged in 2017 to replace an existing council-owned garage block and a large proportion of the open space with seven affordable dwellings. No decision has yet been made.

Residents say that they have indulged “as of right” in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for at least 20 years – the relevant period needed for a declaration. However, the city council argued that villagers have been able to use the green “by right”, as it holds the land under the House Act 1985 - meaning residents have a right to use the land for recreation.

The council has also said that public use has been facilitated and encouraged by the provision of a bench and waste bins.

A report before the committee said that the qualifying use must be ‘as of right’, that is, without stealth, without force and without permission.