LEGAL costs of £43k must be paid by out Wiltshire Council to a private land owner after its ruling to protect a village green was squashed.

People living nearby have used the small triangular green space on Vowley View in Royal Wootton Bassett for summer fetes and barbecues for over 20 years.

In 2016 they persuaded Wiltshire Council to award it village green status and protect it from future development.

However the land owner, Cooper Strategic Land Services, appealed against the decision and won the case in front of an appeal judge on May 16.

The judge ordered Wiltshire Council to pay £43k in legal costs over the three year dispute.

As part of the Wiltshire Core Strategy, Royal Wootton Bassett has a target to build 1,000 new homes by 2026. It was ruled the site was not one where possible future development must be banned.

Richard Gosnell has lived at Vowley View since 1975. He said: “The green space is more valuable now because there is a modern housing estate nearby which traditionally have smaller gardens. Wiltshire’s land register department supported us in our application, they believed we had a good case and even checked that there were no legal triggers such as this. We are licking our wounds at the moment and do not know if this is the end of the road for the application. People are disappointed of course because we could show that we have used the space for village fetes for over 20 years. We have seen the landscape change but the village green use has stayed the same.”

Cllr Chris Hurst represents the area and supported the campaign to protect the green space. He said: “The owner has put up fencing around the area in what seems to be an attempt to stop people using it. It would be a great shame for the community if they were stopped from using it for summer gatherings. Planning applications in the past have been refused on that space because of other issues like parking, it is only a small area. It is the only green space in that area and residents worked very hard to put in the application to protect it.

"I was pleased the northern area planning committee supported it unanimously and am obviously disappointed the appeal has not gone our way.”

Cooper Strategic Land Services was approached for comment.