RESIDENTS are expected to be consulted on a contentious town green application next year.

Gloucestershire County Council is in the process of considering a town and village green application for Verney Fields in Stonehouse.

The issue has become a matter of huge public concern in the market town over the last year after ownership of the land changed.

Townsfolk previously walked freely across the land there for many years.

But that all came to an abrupt end after fences were erected across the site earlier this year.

Now barbed wire fences guide walkers along public rights of way which cross the site.

Stonehouse Town Council is behind the bid for green status which was submitted in February this year.

And tree preservation orders for the site were granted by Stroud District Council in November.

Michael Giles, a town resident, asked for an update on the green application which has 118 witness statements at the commons and rights of way committee on December 12.

Council officers said in their written response that the Commons Registration Authority has had to undertake formal due diligence as part of its statutory duty when considering Town Village Green (TVG) application.

They said this has now concluded to allow it to move to stage two and the formal publication of notice of the application.

“The TVG application is due to be published before Christmas or very early in the New Year.”

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Giles thanked officers for their prompt response and asked if the allotted time period for public consultation could start after the holiday period in the New Year to allow for maximum public awareness?”

Officers said the deadline is currently with Shire Hall’s legal team.

A spokesperson for Windmill Farm, the landowners, said the topography of the site is not suitable for public recreation.

They said: "The fact is this is private farmland.

“It is by no means a town green and has not been used by the community other than for footpath access.”