A THREE-day public inquiry to be staged in March will play a critical role in deciding the future of a popular field.

The hearing will consider a bid by Ramsbottom Heritage Society to secure town-village green status for Church Fields, which has been closed to the public for nearly three years.

The inquiry is being held at Ramsbottom Civic Hall between March 4 and 6, from 10am to 5pm and chaired by independent inspector Alan Evans.

Mr Evans will give his recommendations to Bury Council, which will make a final decision on the issue.

The society say if the application to have the Church Fields registered under the 2006 Commons Act is successful, then access to the site to the north east of St Andrew’s Church would be freely available.

Society members have been examining the legal status of Church Fields since its owners, Peel Holdings, fenced the land off in April 2011.

President Andrew Todd has already collected statements from many local residents, some of whom share memories of leisure activities on the field as far back as the 1920s.