RESIDENTS are hoping to turn a popular field into a village green to protect it from development.

The Claypool, Brazley and New Chapel residents’ associations are calling on people to try to preserve fields in Cedar Avenue, Horwich .

The three associations have started a campaign and now want to hand in an application to Bolton Council to give the land village green status.

It comes after the fields were included in Bolton Council ’s draft allocation plan as a site where houses could be built in the next 15 years.

The draft plan says that 80 homes could be built on the Cedar Avenue site.

After the plan was revealed, 116 residents submitted formal objections to Bolton Council to remove the land from the plan.

Now they are hoping village green status will protect the land for good.

Ken Whowell, secretary of the Claypool group, said: “If we can demonstrate that the field has been used for 20 years or more for recreational use without charge, then there is no reason why it can’t be designated as a village green.

“The message we want to say to people is, ‘have you used Cedar Avenue playing fields at any time for recreation purposes?’ “If you have, then get in touch with us and we will tell you what to do.”

The residents’ associations say the fields at Cedar Avenue are well used and new houses on the land would leave nowhere for children to play.

The groups are leafleting the area and want residents to fill in “evidence forms” that show the area is well used.

They say the land has been used as playing fields since 1937, and is frequented by local children, sports groups, scouts and brownies.

Cllr Richard Silvester is supporting the campaign. He said: “If we get village green status, that will mean that development won’t take place.”

A council spokesman said a consultation was ongoing.

He said: “This is a draft plan which is looking at a long timescale – up to 2026 – and is assessing whether sites would be suitable for development in that time period.

“It does not necessarily mean that any development would occur soon. We are hoping to consult again during the autumn on revisions made to the plan in the light of comments received.”