An application has been made to protect a popular stretch of public land from development.

Under the Local Plan, an estimated 10,000 homes will be built in the district in the next 20 years.

Because of this, restrictions on building on green belt land have been relaxed.

Now, Epping Town Council is planning to apply for a popular walking route to be registered as ‘common’ to protect it from developers.

The Land known as ‘Old Pastures’, next to the Stonards Hill recreation ground, stretches to the Epping-Ongar railway and backs onto the St Margaret’s Hospital site.

Town clerk Alan Shaw said the council would like to ensure that the land cannot be built on.

He said: “Epping residents have enjoyed access across this land as though it was a public open space for as long as anybody can remember.

“The town council’s staff see residents accessing the land from the recreation ground on a daily basis to walk dogs, walk to Coopersale, picnics in the summer or sledging in the winter.

“The town council is seeking to protect the land for future generations by applying to have it registered as a common.”

To qualify for the status, evidence must be provided to show that the land has been used and appreciated by the local community for more than 20 years.

The council is then requesting that Epping residents, past and present, who use or who have used the land for recreation come forward and provide evidence to support the council’s application.

Registration as a Common would protect the land from development and ensure the right of residents to use the land.

A questionnaire can be found here.

Completed forms should be returned to Epping Town Council.