RESIDENTS have lost their fight to protect a recreation area after councillors rejected their bid for village green status.

People living near The Green, between College View and Esh Winning Primary School, Esh Winning, wanted to safeguard the area against future development by having it registered as a village green.

In an application to Durham County Council, Robert Heslop, 68, of College View, said he had used the area for recreation since he was a child, and claimed that it was a valuable community resource.

The council received 16 questionnaires and 17 letters from other local residents supporting the application, as well as photographs and a video of people using The Green.

It also received an objection from Durham City Council, which owns the land, claiming it had given residents implied permission to use it, ruling out its registration as a village green.

A report to the licensing, registration and general purposes committee, by Andrew North, director of corporate and legal services for the county council, agreed with this and recommended that the application be refused.

Following a site visit by the committee it followed Mr North's advice.

Prior to the decision being taken, Lesley Blackie, the city council's director of legal services, said that if the application was refused, it was possible that the land would be sold.

Mr Heslop said that while he expected it, he was disappointed with the refusal. He said: "We'll wait and see what happens and if they put the land up for sale, we will pursue it through petitions and getting the school involved."