Open Spaces Society general secretary Kate AshbrookThe Open Spaces Society is backing two campaigns to protect land for walkers.

The first is an application to have 23 hectares of Yorkshire countryside declared a green. Osbaldwick Meadows, on the eastern outskirts of York, are threatened by a proposed housing development. Designation as a village green would prevent building on the land.

Open Spaces Society general secretary Kate Ashbrook 

The Friends of Osbaldwick Meadows have applied to York City Council, claiming the land has been used for informal recreation for more than 20 years, one of the criteria for becoming a village green.

Nicola Hodgson, case officer of the Open Spaces Society (OSS), said: “They have put together substantial evidence from people who have enjoyed the land, for walking the dog, blackberrying, rambling and horse-riding, over a long period.

“If the Friends succeed and the land is registered, it will be protected for ever from development.”

The case is urgent because the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust has submitted an outline planning application for 540 houses.

The OSS is offering advice and support to the Friends. If there are objections to the application to have the land registered as a green, there will be a public inquiry.

The society is also backing one of its members in North Lincolnshire who is fighting to stop a footpath being moved. Graham Wager, of Epworth Turbary, near Scunthorpe, is leading locals who are resisting an application to move a footpath to the opposite side of the Old Turbary Drain.

A public inquiry starts on 5 December. Objectors to the plan say it is simply for the convenience of a landowner, whose property it crosses.

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the OSS, said: “This is a much loved local route, which has run along the western side of the drain for as long as anyone can remember.

“We are concerned that the residents of the nearby house, Starcross, have persuaded North Lincolnshire Council, the highway authority, to support them in trying to move the path to the other side of the drain, away from their property. 

“Furthermore, they appear to have extended their garden over the path, to make it look like part of their private property, discouraging the public from using the route. Yet a public footpath is a public highway, just like any road. We would not accept it if someone tried to make the A1 road look like part of their garden.

“Unfortunately, North Lincolnshire Council, which has a duty to uphold the public’s rights to use and enjoy footpaths, has allowed this abuse to continue, and has agreed to make an official order to move the path.”

Robin Carr of Northallerton, North Yorkshire, will represent Mr Wager at the inquiry