A COMMUNITY campaigner’s decade-long fight to protect a green space from developers, preserving it for future generations to enjoy, has finally paid off.

Independent councillor Hilary Harrington first lodged her bid for the marina area of her Workington ward to be granted village green status in 2008.

However, her proposal for Harrington marina was opposed by landowners Allerdale council who had considered earmarking the land for a regeneration project.

But today (February 22), coun Harrington’s hard-fought battle to protect the grassed area achieved victory as a top tier planning panel found in her favour.

Coun Harrington, who coincidentally shares her surname with the area she represents, later revealed was “nearly crying” when the panel reached their decision.

She had told panel that the parcel of land was the last green space in a village which had seen a succession of major housing schemes.

Coun Harrington said: “Since the application was made we have had more houses built in Harrington – over 500 with a further 252 granted planning permission.

“This is the only recreational area in Harrington and more local residents are making use of it.

“There is nothing much there apart from the green itself and a few seats but that’s all people need.

“This marina is vital for the community because most of the Harrington green spaces no longer exist. I firmly believe that children need community spaces for a healthy development.”

Her bid originally sought to register a larger area including the harbour, the carparks and the play area

But this sparked two objections – one from Allerdale council and another from the same authority on behalf of the dock board.

Planning chiefs claimed the areas that did not meet the criteria for a town or village green because it included a harbour, play area, carparks and public toilets.

Coun Harrington then agreed to scale back her bid as part of a compromise but Allerdale council objected again.

Speaking at today’s crunch meeting, Sveltlana Bainbridge, Commons Registration Office, revealed that “none of the points” made by the council were relevant to the determination of the application.

“I am of the opinion that the statutory criteria have been satisfied,” she said

For land to qualify for village green status, it must be used by a “significant number” of residents for sports and pastimes for at least 20 years and at the time of the application.

Coun Harrington also had to demonstrate that land had been used “without force, secrecy or permission”.

Commanding views over the Solway, the site is also popular with dog-walkers and bird-watchers as well as for community events and charity fundraisers.

It is also used for family picnics and kite-flying and by local teams for football and rugby practice.

Coun Lawrence Fisher described the bid from coun Harrington – including questionnaires, newspaper cuttings and photographs – as “one of the best applications” the panel had seen.

But members also heard that the bid would have been defeated had the district authority designated the land for local access or included it on the local plan.

One member added: “It was a forgotten piece of land which is fortunate for the people of Harrington, but if you were a member of Allerdale’s thrusting local authority you would perhaps say it was a bit of an oversight.”

Because there is “no right of appeal” via the committee, any challenges would have to be based in law and come via a judicial review in the High Court.