SOLIHULL has got its first Village Green in a 100 years - safeguarding a precious wedge of open space.
Residents in Neville Road, Shirley, are celebrating a victory after their local recreation ground was granted protected Village Green status at last week’s planning meeting.
Both the borough council and locals only became aware the land was in private hands in 2007, when landowners H Lee Brothers Ltd, who originally built the Neville Road estate in the 1960s, installed a fence and submitted an intensive application to build maisonettes.
The plans were thrown out but horrified locals decided to ensure nothing could be built on the land in the future and in 2009 submitted an application from 89 homeowners for the land to become a Village Green.
H Lee Brothers later pledged to offer no objection if the application allowed one house to be built.
Residents agreed and their efforts paid off on April 4 when councillors voted unanimously to approve the scheme.
“I hope we can find a lot more land like that,” said Councillor Jeff Potts (Con, Knowle).
The area is now owned by Solihull Council, maintained as a park and open space but receiving further protection from its village green status.
To “belt and braces” the land, locals are also planning to replace a felled oak tree in the autumn.
Local resident Bryan Jones said: “The council have a bad record with protecting the borough’s parks.
“This way, it will be protected for future generations in perpetuity.
“It just goes to show what a group of locals can do if they put their minds to it.”
Trevor Eames, secretary of Solihull Ratepayers’ Association who helped put together the application, added: “This has been the biggest exercise the association has ever undertaken but we’ve had full support from everybody.
“A lawyer would have cost thousands, we couldn’t afford that, so we’ve had to so all the work ourselves. It’s been a show of real bulldog spirit.”