Residents celebrate village green victory

A SCHOOL dinner lady has won a 15-year battle to save a village green that was under threat from housing developers. The tranquil spot on Bideford s Londonderry estate will be enjoyed for generations to come after Sue Durbin successfully campaigned to g

A SCHOOL dinner lady has won a 15-year battle to save a "village green" that was under threat from housing developers.

The tranquil spot on Bideford's Londonderry estate will be enjoyed for generations to come after Sue Durbin successfully campaigned to get the area registered as a village green under the 2006 Commons Act.

The 54-year-old mum-of-two led a charge of local residents who took the fight to developers wanting to build four houses on the land in 1996. The application was refused by Torridge District Council and a subsequent appeal was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate the following year.

Sue, who works at St Helen's Primary School in Abbotsham, applied to have the land added to the council's register of town and village greens in 2009 after new legislation came into force in 2008.


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She has now received the confirmation letter.

"I was shaking when the letter arrived, but was chuffed to bits when I opened it - it felt like I'd won the Olympics," she said.

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"I didn't leave school with many qualifications and I'm so proud that with lots of other people who got involved, I've managed to help have a bit of village green for families to enjoy in the future.

"It's a great feeling to have it registered and get it protected and if all I do in my life is safe a bit of grass from being developed then I'll be happy."

Sue said that she had been overwhelmed by the support the land had received over the years and many of the people involved in the original campaign had since passed away.

On Monday evening, she was joined on the green by neighbours celebrating news that the tranquil spot would remain untouched.

Jo Thomas, who was among the original campaigners, marked the occasion by planting a sapling oak tree that she had been growing from an acorn since 2007.

Chairman of the Londonderry Residents' Association Ian Aplin, added: "Even after the developers lost their appeals there were still rumours going around that people wanted to build on the land, but thanks to Sue those ideas have now been scotched for good."

Fellow resident Sylvia Day, 89, said she could remember walking past the large oak tree as a schoolgirl before the estate was even built.

"What Sue has done is fantastic; she has worked really hard to collect names to preserve the area," she said.

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