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Battle over free access to Ramsbottom 'common'
4:00pm Thursday 21st February 2013 in News
RAMSBOTTOM Heritage Society is spearheading a bid to guarantee the historical rights to a popular field.
The site’s owners, Peel Holdings, fenced off the land, to the north east of St Andrew’s Church, off Nuttall Lane, two years ago.
But if an application to Bury Council to have Church Fields registered under the 2006 Commons Act is successful, then access to the field would be made freely available.
The society has been examining the legal status of Church Fields since it was fenced off in April 2011.
President Andrew Todd has collected statements from many residents of the town, whose memories of leisure activities on the field stretch back to the 1920s.
He said: “No-one I have spoken to has ever been challenged when using this field, and until 2011 there was unfenced access.
“The earliest map of Ramsbottom, drawn when the Grants bought the town in 1806, names it as Hall Common.”
In January, a new sign prohibiting access beyond the path was put up, stating: ‘This way is not dedicated as a public right of way’.
But Mr Todd said: “The field was widely used by walkers, dog walkers, blackberry pickers, birdwatchers, and for a whole host of other leisure pursuits. All these activities came to an end when the fence appeared.”
He said Peel Holdings had fenced off the area without prior warning.
The society plans to submit its application for 2006 Commons Act registration to the council by the end of the month.
Revealing what would happen if the application is approved, Mr Todd said: “Peel Holdings would continue to own the land, but it would be a common and the historical access rights would be guaranteed. I suspect the fence could remain.”
No-one at Peel Holdings was available to comment.
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