A PUBLIC inquiry to determine whether a Wigan park will be handed village green (VG) status is underway at the town hall.
In the opening exchanges of the hearing - set to continue until Friday - applicant Gareth Fairhurst outlined his argument that informal use of Ashfield Park in Standish has never been granted by the local authority.
He went on to claim that VG status is necessary for residents to maintain their traditional use of the recreational space and that up until now users have been “tolerated trespassers.”
Previously, Mr Fairhurst - who is a ward councillor for Standish - has accused council bosses of misleading residents about their intentions for the park and potential housing developments on the site.
He said: “I think it’s clear that the area has not been laid out for recreational use, only for football, dual use has not been established. That’s why I vehemently oppose any suggestion that any use has been ‘by right’.”
His campaign, Save Ashfield Park, believes VG status will therefore formally set out residents’ rights for using the park and prevent any housing development.
The council’s team will counter-claim that the park has been set out and maintained for informal use and the application for VG status will hamper efforts in the future to improve facilities.
The council’s counsel Mr Philip Petchey said: “It’s absurd, we suggest, to suggest that the use by the public is as a trespasser.”
And town hall bosses have long maintained they have no intention to build on the park.
The hearing is being chaired by barrister Alan Evans who will write a report advising the council of the recommended course of action but will not make the decision himself.
Mr Fairhurst has no legal representation but specified that his campaign’s legal argument had been set out by barrister Ruth Stockley