CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating winning district council backing for their fight to preserve an historic piece of open ground.

Residents in Blackhill, Consett, applied to Durham County Council to have Blue Heaps, once the site of an historic battle, registered as a village green. Derwentside District Council's development control committee has given its backing to the application. Council leader Alex Watson, said: "The Blue Heaps is a landmark that should be treasured. The authority supports this application one hundred percent." Residents began their campaign last year, after developer Strathmore Homes bought part of the site from Derwentside College and proposed to build 13 executive homes on it. It later withdrew the plan after opposition from neighbours. Greg Coltman, spokesman for the Friends of the Blue Heaps, said: "We are really pleased the council has backed us." A second residents' group has put in a separate village green application for the Top of the Park, an area of woodland at the top of Consett Park which was also bought by Strathmore Homes last year. The developers have said they do not intend to build on the woodland area, which is protected by a blanket Tree Preservation Order.

In 1858 The Heaps was the site of a bloody three-day battle between immigrant Irish workers and English steelworkers.