RESIDENTS who petitioned Rossendale council to stop a woodland area in Waterfoot falling into private hands, have won their battle.

More than 20 opposed an application by the owners of Waterfold Barn to buy two parcels of nearby land to extend the garden. Councillors heard that children from Water School had helped plant trees on the land which now attracted birds which were not common to the area.

An officer's report to the corporate policy committee stated: "In establishing the new woodland, through its tree planting programme with the assistance of the local school, the council was trying to encourage people to value the environment and take positive action to ensure that woods are better managed.

"The objectives appear to have been achieved and the site is well used and enjoyed by local residents.

"The land should remain in the council's ownership for the benefit of the community rather than sold to meet the needs of a private individual."

Councillors agreed.