A BID to register a patch of land in Romaldkirk as a village green has been rejected by councillors.

In 2016, Romaldkirk Parish Council applied to have a piece of land along Sennings Lane added to the existing village green.

The land has been maintained by the people who live adjacent to it for many years.

Following objections, the matter went to a public inquiry earlier this year led by barrister Ruth Stockley.

On Tuesday, Durham County Council’s Highways Committee was asked to consider the conclusions of the public hearing.

Although the land passed several tests around village green registration, councillors were told, it failed to measure up on one key aspect. This included the land being used for lawful sports and pastimes by a “significant number of inhabitants” over a 20 year period.

A 1930 deed previously conferred rights of common land on the villagers of Romaldkirk including the application land.

In 1967 when various parcels of land were registered as village green, the site was left out.

During the previous public hearing, between April 30 and May 1, residents said the land had been used for annual events such as the village fair and Beamish rally.

But the final recommendations from the public inquiry called on the council to refuse the application.

A representative for Romaldkirk Parish Council, speaking at Durham County Hall this week, said 18 statements had been submitted in support of the village green bid.

The speaker also raised issues around land ownership – including conflict with objectors in terms of “obstruction” on the site.

However, legal officers said land ownership was outside the remit of the Highways Committee which focused on the use of the land and legal tests around the village green application.

Councillor Richard Ormerod added the test around a ‘significant number of inhabitants’ was “subjective and a matter of opinion.”

He also questioned conclusions about the lack of evidence that the site was a “destination for dog walking.”

Councillors were told that the land wasn’t large enough to be classed as a “dog walking area” – with the inspector stating the majority of the land use was “footpath use”.

Councillor James Rowlandson, of Barnard Castle East division, said: “I have spoken to the two local members, I wouldn’t say they were happy with it.

“As this has been to a public inquiry we have our inspector’s conclusion in front of us. I’m a parish councillor myself, we have a village green  and protecting it is one of the main aspects,  every time we have a meeting it’s always brought forward. I sympathise with Romaldkirk Parish Council but I would agree with the inspector’s conclusions.”

Following discussion, the village green application was rejected by a majority vote of six to three.