Residents have lost their fight to win village green status for a pocket of land in Corby Old Village.
Following a three-day public inquiry held at The Cube last July, the bid has been rejected by an independent inspector appointed by the county council.
Ray Lilley, chairman of Corby Old Village Residents Association and a borough councillor, led the campaign for the land at the bottom of Bessemer Grove and Stanion Lane to have village green status.
Most of the site is owned by Tata Steel and the county council, which is the registration authority for village green applications, appointed inspector Richard Ground to hold an inquiry into the matter.
During the public inquiry Mr Lilley said the land was a haven for wildlife, including foxes and hedgehogs, and that it was used and maintained by residents who cleared away rubbish from the area.
He said people used the land for playing football, blackberry-picking and walking and that the ﬁeld had been home to Corby’s football club in the early 1900s.
Other residents who gave evidence to the inquiry said they also used the area for recreation.
Mr Lilley said: “I’m disappointed that the application has been turned down but I intend to write to Tata Steel to get their reaction.
“This is an historical site and we want to safeguard it from the possibility of future development.
“We have plenty of areas in Corby which can be developed and we don’t want to lose any more sites in the Old Village. Tata Steel claims to be a company which is interested in the environment.
“All we want is for village green status to preserve this area for our children, grandchildren and for future generations.”
Rejecting the application, Mr Ground said that between January 1990 and 1998, when a kissing gate was installed, the use of the land by residents was contentious and by force.
In his report he said: “Until the kissing gates were fitted almost all the witnesses said that they had accessed the land by climbing over the fence on Stanion Lane or climbing over the fence at Tollgate Place.”
Mr Ground said that even after the kissing gates were installed, there was only occasional use of the land by trespassers.